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Clasped like a fractured necklace

round their soaring throat of stone

fixed against quakes by offset blocks,

round corners, interlocking joints,

these walls are masks.  Their rhomboid eyes

stare over royal squares, sun temples,

cliffs sliding to ribboned river,

empty as time.

Climb these ladders of rock

past honeycomb foundations, emerald

terraces, unroofed gables

lit by skies steely with snow.

Admire ashlars smooth as skin,

polished by sweat, brute force, the inward

screams of those who hauled them here:

they glisten like pearls in Urubamba

mist.  Turn to towers

perfectly aligned to equinoctal rays,

dogs laid with their masters

as companions to the dead.

Recall bronze sacrificial knives

that migrated to Yale, then back again.

Then when you catch your breath perhaps

you’ll shake off tourist mode and ask

what in these ruins moves us so –

a pride at plinths pulled past coiled clouds;

subconscious glee at cold

proficiency that shouts


who ruled this place; romantic dreams

of common bonds; though all’s abandoned,

alien, decayed.  The eyes remain. 

Black condor shadows sail.  Dusk paints facades

in hues of blood. 

                          No love can linger

in this geometric space. 

No answer but the churning

rapids’ rumble, far below.

The Raven's Perch, 14 Sept. 2021

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