The Black Empire

Glaucoma window, a pot belly stove
With skin of ash, a chair with a plastic seat
Fallen on its side, perhaps had flung an old man after stroke.
We crept over boards, hunch-backed and steely
Through cobweb veils of sainthood where
We drew up our knuckled sticks to tear them down. It was
A black empire with half-wit doubts whether to crumble or display its
Dank table another day. We swore to holy secrecy. After malicious
Winds buckled it in, each of us kept a board and nail.
Now my friend's eyes travel architectural print. I drink. At our usual bar,
I talk of the fallen house, watch his cuff links
Reflect chandeliers' jingling tiny bits of sun.
The mirror behind the stalwart bottles shows his contempt for past losses.
I smoke and nod, see the grey timber's tremblings crosses.

Judith Ann Levison

About the poet: Judith Ann Levison is of Micmac Indian descent and originally from coastal Maine. She moved to Pennsylvania and became the third Poet Laureate of Bucks County. Her poems have appeared in Pegasus, Iconoclast, The Ibbetson St. Press, and Willow Review. She was published in The New Yorker at sixteen.