Photo Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Renaissance Tapestries


on the piers of Salonika, work
has stopped, goods are not
being unloaded. bound inland,
they stay in the holds
of still ships, the barbers
of Salonika stop cutting hair, stop
shaving beards.

it is quiet, a few walkers about.
in Salonika, the waterfront is
quiet, men speaking softly, stray
syllables in the air. a time of fire,
illumination of shining, an
ecstasy at work, standing
against the deep sadness
of cold salt air

the merchants stalls are closed,
the courtrooms dark laws
are overturned, commandments inverted

some Cassandra, a sly fingered
dealer, is selling a hand
of cards, a heartless tarot, whose
pictures are all the same, each
new hand telling the same story,
each new card another fool

she turns statues to the window,
to catch the failing light,
reflecting hard against
the stale darkness

the mines of Magnesia are not
being worked, the shovels lie
rusting on the ground. white
metal is not being forged, gray ore
is not moved to the docks,
in Salonika, commerce is absent

in Salonika, only the thieves
are working, entering
dark buildings, moving in silence.
the pickpocket, with a gentle touch,
practiced and skillful years of learning
to evade notice and misdirect
attention, slipping evanescent hands
in and out so quickly, leaving
victims empty, without even knowing

a darkness is being sown,
the air charged with anxiety
there is a quickening, a pulse
forming, something growing,
a breath too delicate for thought
beginning to take shape.
the tigers are pacing in their cages

Jesse Weiner

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