When the masses stop counting on their fingers,
will this noble face perish with the conscience of Rome?
Multitudes divide the ill from the well, and millions read
books of quantum hypnosis that dissidents dictate;
the necks of lost lovers show the teeth marks of love,
sin, theology, and the sweet aura of a sonnet.
Greatness defies all: nor can a contagious platoon
derail the man who pledges fidelity and love.
Invalids smoke, but do the fumes reach god? And why
would Prometheus, thief of fire, throw away his lighter?
I think, therefore I smoke: life is a long mutation,
an extemporaneous fugue quantifying love.
Now comes the consciousness of long nights alone,
the mental lapses of a woman in love.
Happy we who present our flames to graves;
hope for relief from pain leads to tears, yes, but
prisoners deprived of sleep and food may yet
regain their faith, nor be reduced to servitude.
My neck a mere mortal’s, I shall not desist from lauding
her who, once kissed, can never again be resisted.
-- David Lehman