The dark barge works the length of braziers
humped like monks awaiting sacrifice;
the first flames wisps of Saint Joan’s
last thin smile, that tiny slice of distance
that keeps us apart and keeps us walking
toward each other under bridges
to nightfuls of music, burns crusted over,
the scarskin describing our lives
like a swirl of tattoos: rippling old glories,
anchor lost at sea, cornerless heart
stabbed by a sword, arc of each hour
edged with flame feeding the river of fire.
We are in this together, great democracy
of blazing structure, you, me, the monks,
the martyrs: same as it ever was, consumer
and consumed: we are all going up;
we are burning.
Tom Chandler is the former State Poet Laureate of Rhode Island and is a professor of creative writing at Bryant College. His most recent collection of poetry, Wingbones, is part of the Signal Books Signature Poets Series.