Two Poems on the End of the World
The World did not end in fire,
Whatever the Frost has tasted of desire,
Nor in Ice, although now surely twice
The lessons have we had of late
Of how that too sufficing hate
Holds a ruler to measure the great
And the small, and too a knife to slice
To fit when too great might inspire,
Little lumps blown up into humps
And bent over backs over burdened by fate
Whatev’ring its end, grumps, whatever, just end.
Too old to desire, and too cold of heart to hate.
Three Two One End
I’ve got a book on the Maya
Discussing the Maya forecasting the End
It begins with a Friar, a Spanish padre
Who came, by horsebacking an army
In silver seeking the same, come
Last to sacred caves and great holes of green water
Where Kukulcan divined the way of stars
And foretold from jewels of that friar’s face
Staring back from green water and into his own
And how he’d quail, and in fright tear away
To Merida, to light up a Cross bearing tallow
And there sit before a table, with pagan book open
Pulling out ciphers and counting on fingers
Pulled out from brown habits to tap out the years
Sighing at last, for the End, he said, would not come, not yet.
So long as he was on the earth. The End,
He said, Father, is set for five centuries later, in Fire.
These Maya may enjoy, Padre, good service to the Crown
For their souls are wild, bodies patina’d with lust
But by work and routine, prayers rolled out in haste
These Maya might learn of sin, abjure pagan ways
Like declaring the End of a World, not theirs to lay waste
So the friar in smile turned from the Cross, and looked to the square
Of white light, flat fire, misshapen grown as a huddled form enter
And fell in the doorway: Kukulcan, the ancient
Returned to make one more revision, in the book.
A number long lost, dropt to a cave’s bottom, he to find
And now rolled out from his fingers: the absence of five
Centuries, deducted, down to the zero of his day, twilight,
While the square light turned grey, and soon violet dark
To shade out the day, the church where the priest in candle light
Red on heavy robe knelt, lifting from open hand this zero:
Adding to his figure, this cipher, and now back to wonder,
Padre priest and friar: when, indeed, his world would end.