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Swords and Bracelets

               —for Helvidius Priscus, Roman senator, 1st century A.D.

Dissent retreats to crypts, caves, and villas. Ally
Myself with whom? My best friend is a spy.
The emperor knows when I burp or sigh.
Gold corselet here, gold bracelet there, false words
That testify to gods—togas can’t stop swords
Or bribes or rumors fed to fearful hordes.
Well, then, we must meet in crypts and caves
And villas and, possibly, in graves.
Posted 06/14/18
from Sky Above the Temple (Rose Alley Press, 2012)
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