Athenian Ghosts: a lesser pilgrimage


for Jay Conway



they paint ghosts there, along the streets

so thick in places they hold up the crumbling buildings by themselves

ghosts of the past and ghosts of a hope that is dying slowly but not yet gone

ghosts of the Easter basil that will make next year’s sourdough; spectres haunting the streets of Europe

The spark has been lit here in Iraq,
and its heat will continue to intensify
—by Allah’s permission—
until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.


image006you were carrying a burden through the streets, muling the past

and we talked like Socrates and Plato

we were Diogenes and Antisthenes baying together at the moon

you carried it and we said goodbye under the same sun

on the same streets where Christians and Muslims lived and died

and the ghosts were with us

Nor, having seen thee, shall I vainly seek
To paint those charms which varied as they beamed—
To such as see thee not my words were weak;
To those who gaze on thee, what language could they speak?



we walked past the party office with its shiny new placard out front, and I took a picture, excited by the thought that This Was History

but the shine has worn

perhaps been replaced with flame and paint as another ghost

worms its way up a building



the ghosts speak a hidden image012language, one muted immediately that it is uttered

and the band plays the music behind the shuttered words

we walk together again in the sunshine

amidst the flames and the paint until Kalki is born in Shamballa or the super nova swallows us all (whichever comes first)


If you can kill a disbelieving American or European
—especially the spiteful and filthy French—
or an Australian,
or a Canadian,
or any other disbeliever
from the disbelievers waging war,
including the citizens of the countries
that entered into a coalition against
the Islamic State,
…kill the disbeliever
whether he is civilian or military,

for they have the same ruling.


image015I like the words ‘apocalyptic death cult’ because it makes me think of a song I heard once

and we clamber over the giant columns toppled, according to the official story, by earthquakes

Christian earthquakes and Syrian archaeologists and gays executed for the same dream

and then I realize that the ghosts are only you and me in the future

talking about the past


image018and Daesh is just the dog shit at the side of the streets

but these dogs will not be moved back after the olympics

and these other dogs, baying at the moon, are different altogether

so ignore us as we crawl into our pots for sleep

ignore us, like you ignore the ghosts

sliding up your buildings

ignore us in the light of the super nova or the bright sun glinting from the sword before it descends

My days once numbered, should this homage past
Attract thy fairy fingers near the lyre
Of him who hailed thee, loveliest as thou wast,
Such is the most my memory may desire;
Though more than Hope can claim, could Friendship less require?





we’ll make this lesser pilgrimage, you and I

again, my friend

again in the streets while we watch Athens burn




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