In order to preserve his way of life
Odysseus threaded the necks
of twenty faithless servant girls
and hung them in his courtyard
above the slick blood of their
newly slain lovers. His wife
was true but his dog was gone
and that was already too much.

Charged to preserve his race
Aeneas trod heavily over
the Aegean. “I will not let this
change who I am.” But it did.
The passive lover turned bloodthirsty
killer as soon as he set foot
on the right plot of land.
With age and experience
he had learned the essential:
when time is running out
it’s best to ignore your conscience.

It is easy to leave scorched earth
in your wake if you don’t look back.
There must be no change or loss.
And therefore preemptive death
to all who might destroy us. It’s a
mistake, for we know that those who
cheat fate will meet their fathers
at the crossroads and walk
away with blood-stained hands,
mad for power, cursing God
and blaming the crime on some
petty criminal’s sad bid for survival.

So loss will come and we will die
from one generation to the next.
Landscapes won’t be recognized
and humans will adapt, because
that’s what they’re born to do. The
world is no longer a chess board,
surprise attacks are few. All can see
the long view: those who would
preserve us will instead destroy us.

Or die awaiting trial. Footnoted
statesmen, who answer fear with fear,
whose solution is destruction of
the people, who, no longer adequately
armed, become internal spies,
gathering evidence and rhetoric,
hoping against hope for an appeal
to a locality or figure on whom
to pin the burden of responsibility.

For mere riches constant vigilance
is too high a cost. It turns men into dogs.
Odysseus left his gate unmanned
for twenty years. How right or
righteous he must have been to so
easily reclaim his kingdom: a few
justified murders and all sleep tight.
While Aeneas, according to Geoffrey,
began the British Empire–which in turn
begat this kind of just war, faithless
and fierce through the flesh of others,
providing a meaning to bring to
a future in which we will not be.