George Elliott Clarke

Hannibal Dreams of Rome

To buckle in backbreaking battle is
to know a blazing darkness—
sunlight ground down to obliterating dust….

Thus, I galvanize the boys
to weather a hurricane of wounds,
our intolerant hooves sniping at earth,
while we stampede over mountains,
plough under cities,

drowning the foe in ruddy Failure
en masse,
or torturing em one by one.

We shall ransack Rome—
and plunder and purge her citizenry!

We have the high ground,
and will thunder elephants down like dragons,
insolent as an avalanche,
to swoop Terror upon our prey.

It’s hard to wrestle in mire;
hard to balance in mud:
But we’ll ford the swampy mess
our swords will make,
sinking hard inches into every blanching belly.

This is jihad:
To render the Adriatic a smoke-cured climate,
a blast-force, orange-tinged pall.
Even clouds will appear grisly—
a jumble of mangled, lop-sided, headless corpses—
crushed things—
puffed up by maggots.
All of Rome will seem more liquid
than solid,
thanks to our damp—or dripping—swords.

If Rome comes to a wretched cremation—
a wealth of ivory ash,
so people bake,
or creep, perishing,
due to indissoluble thirst,

I have good news:

We Moors will be the dew at their gates.

[Roissy-en-France (France) 5 septembre mmxiv]

The 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and the 7th Parliamentary [National] Poet Laureate (2016-17), George Elliott Clarke is an Africadian (African-Nova Scotian). A multiply prized poet, his 15th work is Gold (Gaspereau, 2016). His recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award.