Advancing down the road from Nineveh–Andrew Motion (Poet Laureate)
Death paused a while and said, Now listen here
You see the names of places round about
They are mine now and I have turned them inside out.
Take Eden further South
At dawn today I ordered up my troops to tear away
its walls and gates so everyone can see that gorgeous
fruit which dangles from its tree.
You want it don’t you? Go and eat it then and lick your
lips and pick the same again.
Take Tigris and Euphrates.
Once they ran through childhood-colored slabs of sand and
sun. Not any more they don’t. I have filled them up with
countless different kinds of human crap.
The palace sprouting flowers which sweetened empires in
their peaceful hours.
I have found a different way to scent the air. Already it’s
a by-word for despair.
Which leaves Baghdad, the star-tipped minarets, the marble
courts and halls, the mirage heat.
These places and the ancient things you know you won’t know
soon. I am working on it now.