One poem by Ethan Goffman

As Notre Dame Burns . . .


I am cleaning house

hoisting a tall brass lamp

to sweep away

the accumulated dust

of eons


a stupifying crash

like the end of something


the lamp’s base has rotted out

lies in

scattered fragments

humpty dumpty


This massive lamp was

a lighthouse

guiding us to safety


1000 years of Western civilization

crashing down

burning up

the center cannot hold


vast chunks of glacier

calving off

England, Hungary, Turkey

spinning apart

the new Europe

the new world order

the ancient civilization

the global Empire

democracy’s last hope




Our house a rock

in Rockville

sheltering our tiny family

on a colossal foundation

built in 1952

when gleaming rows

proud houses

sprouted up

on acres of cement


from the ashes of war

a new America

a new Europe


This bronze, ornate lamp

we will toss away

after a dozen years

lost among the ephemera

of a new world order

built on commerce


disposable junk

a foundation of sand


Amazon Prime rushes a new lamp


for a billion junkies

flotsam from China’s million factories


built on a foundation of

cheap labor


Our house, our marriage

an unshakeable foundation

in Rockville, a rock


to the flooding, landslides, heat waves, hurricanes, tornados, malaria, Lyme disease, measles, fear mongering, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, shootings, bombings, slaughter of the lambs


Rockville, all American town

sanctuary city of a hundred thousand migrants

Hondurans, Guatemalans

Ethiopians, Iranians

Koreans, Chinese, Indians

Sri Lankans

refugees all

Americans in a flash


The smoky remains of the ancient cathedral


wavering yet proud


an ancient skeleton

awaiting new flesh.


Somehow, a miracle

The crown of thorns

has survived the blaze


now each of us must wear it


©Ethan Goffman

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