“The world is charged with the guilt of god & country,”
that from the hanging judge is a quote
that skulks into mind with startling regularity.
In a moment freed of time, in that moment,
how dark must the sky be,
how subdued the distant buildings,
or real the wall?
Oil on a ninety-eight-plus-square-foot canvas
stretched over two centuries
—carbon dating of the leftmost still bleeding corpse
At sixty-eight Goya paints the belated evening news:
“Last night in response to local insurrection
the soldiers of the Emperor Napoleon
in swift and brutal reprisal
One’s back spans a body’s thigh;
a third is prone upon another’s feet.
The living kneel beneath the guns’ sights,
squint their aims down the guns’ sights,
watch furtively or cover their eyes.
Generations later our weapons are automatic,
our John Deeres plant the dead.
“What do we make of a world that breaks & decays?”
In your name, guns and icons;
In your name, holes in the ground.