The Emperor Of Byzantium

By all the Emperors of
Byzantium!

Now see…his shadowed eyes. Illness
Dances as
A constant friend, the bane of royal lines
And the distinguishing appearance of pure
Blood…hued blue and gold.

To the North: Rus
To the West: Rome
And the Roads have been trodden
By the Vandals,
See him:
Now in green tailcoat and the dust
Of lineage, thinning blood
Dark-eyed
Like a stargazer…the sleep belonging not
To night or day but there is no
Rest for Kings and Emperors.
The Heavens respect
None but those who seek their own
Fortunes of the Stars, and the
Blood is that same
Blood, of illness and power.

Behold the Grand City!
Constantinople, while the Midwestern couples take
Their photographs and the
Empires fall:

Green colored
Biplanes, (that won a war bet money
Between the Turkish Italian German English)
Pale-shadowed
Byzantine. The name
Justinian jumps out of print to
Humid June and the white
Birds perched atop the thatched
Huts of the peasants, preening
Their tail feathers (that spelled out
Death for Fashion and Aristocracy)

Out of distances he stands,
Attentive. The royal colors have faded
Now not to green or
Ash, but the purple-golden-blue
Adorns no longer the Turkish
Flag. Byzantium is best
Left to Yeats and all those young
Men, Emperors and Kings,
Dying simply of blood

All Roads either lead
To Rome

Or from it.