The Emperor must not be told night is coming.
His armies are chasing shadows,
Arresting whippoorwills and hermit thrushes
And setting towns and villages on fire.
In the capital, they go around confiscating
Clocks and watches, burning heretics,
And painting the sunrise over the rooftops
While the people wish each other good morning.
The rooster brought in chains is crowing,
The flowers in the garden have been made to stay open,
And still dark stains appear on palace floors
Which no amount of scrubbing can wipe away.
December 1, 2005