The Capitol Dome – Mark Parsons

Ornate cloud of sharp angle-rife tube and clamp scaffold
Blurs dome
Like a JPEG-formatted digital photograph,
Heavy compression reducing the natural colour gradations and surface details
To illegible posterized script
Not even the Catalan architect Gaudi could read;
Vertical standards like ribs of a corset to bind up the sides of the Capitol Dome,
Reinforced horizontally
By right angle, cold drop-forged
Tweak the circumference
And bevel its arc into increments,
Make multitudinous facets
The cross-braces zig-zag along
Like American shoelaces
Holding down leathery tongues
And inscribing their grooves as a pattern of
Obscure Norse
Carved in stone tablets.
From a distance the million-plus[-change] pounds
Of aluminum scaffolding
Bristles like chitinous setae, the outgrowths that nettle and fur
Exoskeletons arthropods wear,
An elaborate byzantine tortured mosaic of crosshatch so dense,
Fragile and delicate
Only incredible strength and stolidity
Could prevent
Hands that would hold from destroying
The tessellate meshwork of mortar and pestled till pulverized contours;
The fractures and splinters and slivers
Accelerate, propagate—
Increase in number achieved
Through a decrease in size, granularity.
The veiled bell or pear shape
Like a jello mold, or an insect collagen aspic mold,
Composed of connected bays
(Three-dimensional reference areas
[Blocks of space]
To enable timely, effective
Tactical force direction, control, facilitate
Max-efficiency asset use
[Personnel and weaponry, ordnance and transport vehicles,
Combat casualty care and medicine]
Small rectangular zones,
To some quickly-drawn
Disposition matrix [or kill list]
That derived from life-style, behavior pattern
Analysis based
On a well-established and trusted formula, an age-old strategic tool
Harkening back to the past,
Grafted on spaces ungoverned—religiously, geopolitically, ideologically—
Used in order to pinpoint presence of
Enemy prey, and which prey
Carries around its own free-moving, mobile,
Or portable zone of hostility
[Unless the map
Gets confused
With the places rendered….]
A weapons-grade,
Algorithmically sound, military
On the fly
And immediate,
Moment-to-moment projection)
(Carved and stacked, piece-molding something
Complex and valuable)
Cantilevered to hug the decreasing perimeter:
Skirt to peristyle,
Boiler plate to the second story,
The belt course, cupola,
Of it
Built on top
Of the inner dome—
You see, every dome’s two
Cast iron domes
To match stone:
Each successive ring—
Architecture, ornament—breaking up,
Every decorative flourish, curlicue
Snapping off
Light and crumbly,
To show the honeycombed rust beneath
Pitted and pockmarked,
A thing
Buried a long time, hidden from sight.

Mark Parsons’ poems have been recently published or are forthcoming in Ex Pat Press, Dreich, Cape Rock, and I-70 Review. He lives in Tokyo, Japan.

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