Sunday, October 5, 2014


He can discuss the development
of cuneiform as expertly as he
stocks and organizes the shelves
of the store where he works.
His is a mind made for order:
the precision of the stylus
pressed into clay to record
inventories and transactions;
bottles and boxes lined up
on shelves, labels facing out.

But life is messy and illogical.
Great civilizations are toppled,
cities and temples razed,
storehouses pillaged.
Customers misplace items,
leave shelves in disarray.
Priests and clerks chant oaths
and beseech the gods for order.

He knows what happened
to the Sumerians,
overrun by the Akkadians,
conquerors and conquered
assimilated and maintained
an orderly civilization.
What he’ll never understand
is why some people
do not think about putting
things back on the correct shelf.

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