(In the November Chronogram poetry roundup, Lee Gould describes L.S. Asekoff’s verse novella, Freedom Hill, as a “masterpiece!” On Sunday, November 27, Asekoff will read with other poets from the issue at the Kleinert/James Art Centerin Woodstock at 4 pm. Here he describes a poem from The Gate of Horn, his previous book.)
“The Conquerors,” which appeared in Slate, and then in The Gate of Horn, was written on the eve of the second Iraq War and is a meditation, in part, on the fall of empires and the Terror Stadt. Empires fall as often from their “successes” as their failures as they extend themselves further and further into “barbarian” lands, and they depend on demonizing the enemy “out there” as well as the internalized enemy “back home” — thus the statue in the great walled marketplace to the God of Fear.
They showed us the white flower of surrender
They showed us the red
They fell down before us at the gates of their city
Terrible to behold we hovered above them
Lords of the Air
We promised them the peace
That passeth understanding
We promised them the freedom of the broken knee
Only the conquered can know
Rumors arose strange premonitions
A talking fish a white crow
& news of uprisings in the distant provinces
Trouble closer to home
Victims killing victims a priest cried
Who is blameless?
The Lords of the Air who dare not touch earth?
Those who kill without risking death?
Following the itinerary of stars
We returned to our city
There we found they had raised in our absence
At the center of the great walled marketplace
A statue to Phobos
God of Fear
As they fell down before us
Perhaps we can be forgiven for asking
Having lived so long among strangers
What is there to fear?