I’ve never stood opposite the Mona Lisa.
I’ve never heard the euphoria of “Ode to Joy”
or the bloom of Vivaldi’s “Spring.”

I’ve stood opposite the rubble of my home.
I’ve heard the drumming of bullets on walls
and the crashing of cymbals overhead.

I live blind to beauty as others live blind
to injustice, as white is blind to black,
as weather is blind to starving seed.

A man asleep in a quiet house does not
blink at the thunder in a distant city.
He makes love, sleeps and dreams.

Those who live in the thunder must sleep
with one eye open, marry love to loss.
And what comes forth is not love

or beauty but something born of the thunder
itself; broken, desperate, never quite certain
where or when it will rest or roar.

Some say beauty is a keyhole through which
we glimpse the eternal, a looking glass that gives
pause from all that seems unbearable.

I say beauty is the blindfold of the ages, a mask
worn to purge the weeds and praise the rose,
as if this Earth was ever God’s creation.

But God did not create this squalor with its
rotting fruit and poison vines. He gave this to
the devil to till for all his generations.

The Mona Lis smiles from her wwall, a face
frozen between laughter and put, content
never to set foot outside her frame.

And I come forth in the thunder,
a bastard of creation, tossed like a match
into the fire pit of the world.

(first published in The Moth)