Children of a Fallen Desert Empire (poetry)

We are not the arsonists of August
nor the fire-pushing winds of pre-fall.
We are the burnt black hills of November
in the hot, short shadow of which
we gather our families in thanksgiving
that from us
the doomed young grasses of March will grow
to blue the sky for a month
and draw foreign shepherds here
to graze their great flocks of bell-ringing lambs.

-M. Ashley

6 thoughts on “Children of a Fallen Desert Empire (poetry)

  1. The foreign shepherds, apparently, are thankful that they can leave their families to live a solitary existence in a mountain shack with a sheepdog and a video tape. Tragic grasses are very versatile: they once started a range war between the sheepherders the the cattlemen. The sheep eat the grass close to the ground so that cattle couldn’t eat them. Either way grasses don’t grow tall. There are songs however: “Blue skies, nothing but blues skies|nothing but blue skies from now on. ” and “home, home on the range| where never is heard a discouraging word| and the skies are not cloudy all day.” It sounds a little like the dry humor of Rumi and the gods. I think it was a TV show in the ’50’s for the ’49ers and the golden oldies on the radio.

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    1. I once had a Hungarian pen friend who was at university for civil engineering. Around finals time, he wrote me several forlorn letters about how he wished he could run away and become a shepherd so he could drink wine with his dog and be with the “sheeps.” No mention of a video tape, but it would have likely been Batman. “I am hard like Batman” he once wrote me (referring to his emotional toughness).

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      1. I heard that they let a sheep mother raise a sheepdog puppy so that it will grow up not wanting to eat a lamb. I am sheepish when it comes to spelling but sometimes the god of spell-check betrays me and it still doesn’t know or doesn’t want to know the difference between “to, too, and two.” When two moose become sheepish they’ll never become one even if the Lord is their shepherd.


      2. Give me my praise
        I shall not be wanted

        Humble is praise in the valley
        where the lambs are abundant; I do
        not need to want for chops, and
        I’d have no need for stewing.

        Give me my paprika, the
        shepherdess is at the barbecue

        My staff, they comfort me not, for
        an office gives me my unjust humor;

        though cross, I’d let them
        humor me well and lead me

        to cross the river Styx into Egypt
        and find my sticks, no carrots

        do not fail me now, for

        I must be at a gate of Heaven
        to explain my case splayed out
        in the verbosity of the century, yea
        I come to praise Caesar and myself in kind

        Tell me Caesar is there
        and I am ubiquitous in
        the quadrillion words of praise.
        ~~ Meadow of Doom, Douglas Gilbert


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