City on a Hill

Set there why? Arrogance and fear –
the adaptive combination of rattle and venom
city on a hilltop behind fortified palisades
it trembles up there
the weight of it crushing
inducing landslides, burying the unfortunate
below – who look to it, all alight
like a beacon set aflame for war
as a warning
that the barbarians have struck base camp
clambering up the slopes of skulls and fantasy
scrambling over hard truths and loose handholds
around you people lose their grip
plummet, crying – no guide wire
no safety net – just the long fall
blank face denial of descent
grasping out and pulling others with them
giants ascend with the people and when a behemoth slips
the mighty bellow shakes the foundations
of the city and the residents above act fast
lowering the rope ladder to the monster too big to fail
in its climb to the top…
Upon making it you find the great gate
is locked and the sentinel aims to kick you down
should your incantation not include the magic words:
god, liberty, freedom…
when the way opens like a furnace to your dreams
first comes the blast of heat, the disillusion,
the sulfuric stench
for all its riches and gleam
the city on a hill is a heat stoked mirage, unbuilt and untended
and as you gain access
stepping past the wide yawning gate
tumbling into deep volcanic gloom
your body sighs like tears
in a hot skillet
a mist of salt
in the Earth


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