these faint scratchings summon my ghost
two thousand years buried, recalled
from heaps of refuse like a trail of coins
(history’s map) to an underground stream

we try to comprehend dreams of glory
this timeless need ground to dust in empire’s outpost
turned again to mud (feet marching and marching)

tangles of wire and old box TVs are monuments to ambition
covering glimmer of our past in these swords and plowshares
engraved on slim scraps of wood and bones of ordinary lives


A cleave poem for my friend Merril, who I know has already read this article about a recent discovery of ancient Roman writing tablets in London.