Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne…”James Russel Lowell

We are all mourners now, our clothes
funeral shrouds we tear off our backs
when the time comes (and it will come);
in one pocket we carry brushes for tidying
the graves we stumble on in schoolschurches,
nightclubsconcertsgrocery storesstreetcorners,
and in the other plastic flowers to brighten them up;
our bodies are grown stiff with kneeling in prayer;
we watch life bleed away all around us, screaming
Out, damned spot! at no one in particular; we dream
of Heaven and fear that Hell is murky, though in truth
we believe in neither; we work so hard to build
an estate which, at last, our children refuse.

In a world where attention wanders without end
we still pause, rapt, for a tearful moment, when
the last rites are read, the dirges played;
and lacking willpower, or time, or imagination
to stop the killing, we become expert at lining up
—so orderly, so civilized! —to pay our respects
to the dead.

Image credit:Valery Tenevoy

Andy Posner grew up in Los Angeles and earned an MA in Environmental Studies at Brown. While there, he founded Capital Good Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial services to low-income families. When not working, he enjoys reading, writing, watching documentaries, and ranting about the state of the world. He has had his poetry published in several journals, including Burningword Literary Journal (which nominated his poem ‘The Machinery of the State’ for the Pushcart Poetry Prize), Noble/Gas Quarterly, and The Esthetic Apostle.