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.

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