—after “The Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Even the angels fled when Death triumphed.
Humanity died in boxes and oceans while the skies burned—
so long ago now, but still strangely familiar.
Only the birds enjoyed the view,
fluttering eagerly above the suffering.
The old masters were never wrong—
Auden knew this. Bruegel, too, understood
our worry: that all wars are plagues.
That plagues are endemic to the human condition.
And when the dead rise, there are those
who don’t even notice. Sometimes the music plays
while fools and false gods pretend nothing is wrong.
The emperor’s clothes are invisible.
His closets contain skeletons.
The apocalypse has already come:
armies of the dead set our battleships aflame,
and we think it’s normal—
seasonal wildfires. To be expected.
Like Hawaii’s Kilauea or autumn in Los Angeles.
New York seventeen years ago.
Someday our children will pray
for us, thinking that’s all that’s needed.
Someday our skeletons will be all that’s left.
And perhaps the world is better off
with bones. Perhaps the bones
are better off with no mind
to confuse the issue—
The zombies are coming.
No, the zombies have already come.
The zombies have eaten the world
while we stare at paintings and websites,
marveling at the worst of times.
The future is theirs.
Editor’s Note: As an editor, I feel it’s important to avoid indiscriminate self-publishing, but on one day a year, perhaps you will forgive me (yes, it’s my birthday). Interestingly, I wrote this in May of 2018.