A sexual rebel testing the limits
of near-divinity: mad? Quite possibly. Tragic? Yes.
Evil? In the cage of his omnipotence, what does that mean?
Blame the mother for planting the seed
of Mercury and El-Gebal in him beneath Palmyra’s date trees.
The golden chain of Emperors was hardly without weak links
but it couldn’t take
the strain of the Syrian boy-priest.
Belonging to the goddess,
trapped in the wrong flesh prison, even Imperial order
and all Rome’s physicians could not
contrive a vagina for him.
and the soft wool of newborn lambs.
He wished to be
all-thing and no-thing
the black stone of the god
burning through the sky.
In its blackness he saw his true face reflected
and it spoke to him.
Removing himself from Nature,
his head was tight-closed hothouse of exotic
and sensitive orchids of perversity, howling beneath
a full moon of sex like apes on heat.
Like apes on heat the parasites
howled for him to use his power.
His hatred for those wanted him to do things
was palpable – the more they wanted, the more he shocked
playing the street whore on marble staircases.
Knowing they could not refuse he fed them exquisite banquets
of glass, brick, ivory and marble; he watched from the balcony
with gloating eyes, his purple drag wrapt round him
as they drowned in fragrant cataracts of rose petals.
The snow, crimson and white, kept falling.
He sought in days slashed the purple of wine
the purity of newborn lambswool.
Rome was the mirror he coolly regarded
the mask of his face in until the water boiled.