The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 14 no. 2


Christopher Bursk

And all in war with Time for love of you


Rome was burning, and to pass history I had an hour
to say why, but I was having too much fun fiddling
with caesuras and had no time to worry about the Christians.
If Nero had his priorities, I had mine, and right then
it was not taking an exam but succumbing to an orgy
of iambs: Lo in the orient where the gracious light
Lifts up its burning head.
 The sun rioted lasciviously in a girl’s hair,
Its wanton excesses traveled down the back
of a boy’s neck, Who cared if I flunked Western Civ.?
If the greatest name in English literature could be ignited
by a kid my age, why couldn’t I blaze a little too?
Ah, combustible desire. Rome wasn’t the only refinery aflame.
Locked in a sonnet I could be as inflammatory
as I wished. At last I had a license to play with fire.