The Sack of Carthage by Geoffrey Lehman

The Sack of Carthage

by Geoffrey Lehmann From book: A Voyage of Lions and Other Poems

Used by permission of the poet.


Screams, laughter, smoke, rapine at noon

Nightmare by day, figures from night we roamed

Bloody and light-headed through spectral sunlight,

Burning the corpse of Carthage.


But then we saw them.

Sacking a noble house, we found

A barred door looking out into a garden

Of palms and vines shaded by high stone walls.

A butterfly flapped slowly and we saw

Standing enormous and shaggy, three gorillas.

Shyly they looked away from us.

One sadly nibbled at a vine-shoot.

Another apprehensively rubbed his sides.

Silent we watched and did not dare enter.

I think we even loved them for a moment,

Until a nameless Carthaginian fear

Suddenly seized our minds.


One turned brown curious at us to see

A group of gaping soldiers with charred faces

And tunics torn and bulging gold and trinkets,

And one of us who squinted through the bars

And aimed a cross-bow at the garden.

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