ADRIFT IN SPACE
We’ve drifted for so long in boundless black
Whose silence circumscribes the pitiless void
In which the very echoes of our thoughts
All seem to be just memories of themselves.
The stars in layers change but are the same,
Deceive the eye with phantom courses vapor
Like the phosphorescent trails of gas
Brushed by the solar winds ionic surge.
Enfolded in our sleepless dreams we lay,
Our static nerves and creeping blood are kept
By measured pulses in machines programmed
For aims forgotten in the blended centuries.
The metal of our hull has gathered ice
And dust that melted into stone and now
Will flicker on our gravity locked path
When passing near suns as our comet’s tail.
A LETTER FROM ROCROI
This letter from Conde Aurelio del Dárdano Yáñez, dated May 19, 1643, is translated from a document held in the museum of the Convento de San Marcos in León, Spain. It was written from the battlefield of Rocroi shortly after the critical Spanish defeat there and speaks to us just as clearly as it did the conde's own troubled era.
My dear sister Aldonza,
I have no doubt it's due to intercession
By St. Celestine on his holy feast
That I survived that raging conflagration
Of battle in which man becomes a beast.
I have no wounds, though our dear cousin Quique
Fell bravely on a spear when his rough tércio
Repelled the French twice in a bloody fray.
I'm filthy, tired and craving for botillo.
The sights around me, sister, I can't tell
To one like you who's lived in purity;
Suffice to say it's like a view of Hell
And beg you count your rosary decades for me.
We lost: but more than lost our empire met
In these Ardennes a modern Teutoburg chase
And in my soul I feel a chilly sunset
Is falling on us in a rising pace.
We had both greater numbers and resources
And a reputation forged in battle.
But we set off to fight upon the crutches
Of bad supplies and even worst moral.
Our Roman fathers founded our dear city
To guard the routs of silver from our homeland
But we excelled them with our own discovery
And exploitation of a new-found land.
The Lord had vouchsafed to us all the treasures
Of Asia and the New World leaving dazzled
All civilization with our rising powers.
In those days all the silver in Europe doubled
As goods and gold poured in Seville. The wealth
The crown gained through the fifth and taxes grew.
Where did it go? By what demonic stealth
Was this all lost as our prosperity flew
To foreigners while we can’t pay our soldiers?
(And all the guns the crown bought were defective
There is no patriotism in artillery contractors.)
Why did our pride become just vain and fictive?
The bankers, German and the Genoese,
Inflated credit based upon our bullion
And as false money flowed with such an ease
It made the crown into a gelded glutton
Bedazzled with the glamour of the spell.
So we went off on mad-capped, costly ventures
To rid the earth of all the fiends of Hell;
But, it cost us all the nation’s coffers.
They take our gold for payment of the debt
While it’s in crates stowed in our very ships
Although they engineered it so we can not pay it,
And thus the crown leans heavy on the townships
And people with strange fines and fees and taxes
To pay the banks when they have taken all
We have, yet, fall upon us with their axes
That leaves the kingdom bound in Poverty’s thrall.
These leeches and the cancer of corruption
Are slowly draining our vitality
Defeat is just the obvious manifestation
Of an already beaten society.
Is Mars in Taurus that I’m melancholy
Again and rambling with my chilly humour?
Perhaps, or is that I see things far more clearly
Than others? Farewell for now, beloved sister!