Against the end of hope, or John Stack’s last good try


His cohorts, once and former,

drank wine and smoked cigars,

in robes, bleary eyed, like Romans,

orgified, just in from debauch.


And inside, the Senate sent up a cheer,

a wail of laughter that busted

along the street, where we warmed our hands

under the haunches of dogs

with hardly any breath left in them.


At the door of the chapel, meanwhile,

a whole line of mouths opened

on cue of everlasting life.

At the altar, Caesar wrapped laurels

around the heads of orphans who’d done him favors.


And there was our man, the one who stood for us,

making one last try—after we had given up—

to reinstate the republic, to make us believe

in something other than flesh

and empty prayers and false gods.


Last time we saw him, he was blowing the base

of the fire, sending sparks into Cleopatra’s veils

stars to signal gods the experiment wasn’t over,

the patient’s heart hadn’t stopped—not yet.


Published by

Patrick Dobson

Patrick Dobson was founded in 1962. He is a writer, scholar, ironworker, and poet who lives in Kansas City, MO. He is author of two books with the University of Nebraska Press, Seldom Seen: A Journey into the Great Plains (2009) and Canoeing the Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer (May 2015). Dobson is a work in progress until termination.

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