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Saturday, September 12, 2020


by Lois Marie Harrod

Dave Whamond, Canada,

Though writing poetry
often seems like fiddling
while Rome burns,

perhaps we should remember
violins were not invented
until the 15th century,

long after the Great Twiddler died.
Neither pencils or pens then,
nor ballpoints and computers

on which we’ve been fiddling
since confined long term
to our virtual prisons.

In fact  (it’s nice to have a fact)
if Nero played on anything at all,
it was on a cithara—

though Tacitus claims
Nero did not scrape the strings,
but warbled The Sack of Troy

in his best operatic voice
while Rome burned faster
than California.

Tacitus offers no eye-witnesses
to confirm his story, just as now
no known epics attest

how many times or in what situation
Nero referred to his legions as losers.
It is has been corroborated though

that this Nastiest of Emperors
used the land cleared by his fire
to build a Golden Palace

with surrounding Pleasure Gardens—
and that perhaps is worth noting
in a poem or two of toppled monuments.

Lois Marie Harrod’s latest collection Woman was published by Blue Lyra in February 2020. Her Nightmares of the Minor Poet appeared in June 2016 from Five Oaks; her chapbook And She Took the Heart appeared in January 2016; Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. A Dodge poet, she is published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches at the Evergreen Forum in Princeton and at The College of New Jersey.