It’s okay to say you lived at the end of empire
when Rome hits you in a riot of jasmine
and the apricots fall from urban gardens
onto the ancient streets of Caesar.
Nouveau gladiators play basketball in the shadows w
here greater or lesser slaves of empire once stood.
It’s okay to say you lived at the edge of empire
when the bells ring out from ancient towers,
and echo among the roads and law you built.
It’s natural to want to overextend yourself
when power and the capital feel so invincible.
It’s okay to say you lived at the epicenter of empire
when every wall’s a fresco and beauty and god are on your side.
But it’s all been said and done a million times
and the cushion of collapse
is a slow moving, thousand-year sigh,
into deep bowls of fettuccine and endless cobblestone.