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There are hieroglyphs etched into the foundation of my skull,
ideas floating in the ethos of the lingering past,
whispers of demigods,
the sweat blood tears of lifetimes spent but not forgotten.
I ride down the tracks on Gutenberg’s runaway train,
overhearing Babylon’s sycophantic tongue,
the clipped, distorted, twisted twang
of the wreckage of the tower of Babel unraveled.

The walls of the timeless temple flash with torchlight
as you stampede alone frantically through the labyrinth.
Confused faces pass you by without looking up,
friends jog alongside you ironically,
catcalling and giving advice.
You come to a dead end, out of breath,
and see a trap door in the floor.

It groans and grinds as you heave it from its frame.
The grating of stone upon stone
resounds through the cloud
of fetid yellow dust
kicked up.
A ladder leading down is revealed,
it recedes quickly into a darkness flickering with shadows.
You climb down, your fingers flames
and your eyes swallowing
the dark smoke of the impenetrable,
of the unseeable.
Your feet resound against the rusted steel rungs of the ladder,
the walls echo with your breath,
the soft slap of your hands on cold metal,
the pangs and hisses of musical hieroglyphs.

A dictionary comes rushing down from the temple and the door above is closed.
You continue down in search of the dictionary, to decipher
the muttering of John the Baptist,
the silence of the Buddha,
a shaman’s singing,
a wave crashing on a plummeting Redwood
glaciers colliding as time speeds up and down,
in crescendos of frantic, splintered tempo and utter stillness.

The constellations appear, above and below.
suspended in the cosmos,
you float, nauseous, exultant, terrified, ravenous
for supernovas folded over supernovas,
black holes getting smaller,
of the universe collapsing into its origin,
into the unknown
into the absence of us
and, thus,
forever beyond our potential to understand.
You wait, eyes wide, ears pricked,
olfactory organs pumping,
nerves writhing and coagulating,
your tongue folding in on itself,
overwhelmed by the riot of flavors,
of black sky, of Orion stalking Taurus,
of the seven sisters menstruating
beneath seventy swaying moons,
asteroids shedding detritus across the ethos,
and yourself, distinct and stark
amongst the retreating scope of all surrounding and inherent.
Your eyes close, and when you open them,
you are here, staring at this page.
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Submitted on May 01, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:57 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 2,351
Words 391
Stanzas 5
Stanza Lengths 8, 7, 15, 8, 23

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    "Babel" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 6 Jun 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/66395/babel>.

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    Who wrote the epic poem "Os Lusíadas" in 1572?
    • A. Cesário Verde
    • B. Luís de Camões
    • C. Fernando Pessoa
    • D. Miguel Cervantes