Meaningful thoughts come to us at the strangest of times; the inspiration for this poem hitting me while I was sweeping up dust the other day. I was thinking about how pointless, existentially, the process of cleaning really is—despite my Virgonian obsession with it. We struggle to create order from chaos, we invent meaning where there may not necessarily be meaning. While that sounds Nihilistic, it’s the other polarity of thought, the counter to that emptiness that I often explore and examine in my work. Anyway, I was standing, dumbfounded, with the broom in my hand as pieces of this poem continued in my head:


Emperor’s Finery

Hollow ground

Oasis on the horizon—never to be found

Reaching far,

reaching grand

A Reaper’s hands

Always near

To things so dear

And cherished

We cannot outrun Her

This is Her race to win

Hounds will hunt you down,

Grind bone brown,

As the dirt that will feed

Tomorrow’s gardens

Beauty hides in that need

For meaning

Light is partner to dark

Every breath can hold weight

Of the spirits we touch

The virtues we chase

Life defines itself

While fleeting

A firefly’s trance

A lasting romance

A song, a child, a heartbreak, a treasure

These are the measures,

And these are the woes

That make from the dust


Endless as the cold, black beyond

Or the Light that hides further

Whence the chorus of our ancestors

Echoes and brings


—Christian A. Brown, 2017