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The Mesopotamian Armory

Dreamed 2008/8/6 by Wayan


I'm reading Poet's Choice by Robert Hirsch--capsule descriptions of a couple of hundred poets he likes. Note some dream-poets who might fit in the World Dream Bank. Also read Dorothea Tanning's A Table of Content--a surrealist with two dream-poems. Then I try John Berryman: His Toy, His Dream, His Rest... Interesting wording, rhythms, they seem playful, but I have no idea what they're about. Except that under the surface humor lurks a sadness.

All this experimental writing makes me want to play too. Maybe a shape-poem?


Beery, bleary, in the bar, this
Mideast archeologist tells me (sorry) "We
made a huge find on our dig." Burrowed in a
broad, low tell. But 4000 years ago, 'twas
a massive armory--
fortress on the rim
of an Ur-city, like
an opal set in brickwall ring.

Civilized folk, at least if you adore
Inanna, patroness of war. Here they stored
barrels of manure--farmer-prized--but when
dry, powdered, scattered--explosive! Not
full gunpowder, but catapulted, a blast
Hell enough to scare
a war-horde of mere
bronze-age foes. For
two generations, this
muddy city-state, now
mere lost dust, played king.

Then the tell blew.
Five hundred tons of cellared dung
aflame! Globe of white fire devoured
the fort, the city-state, the name. The few
chance survivors rumored it to Egypt, Iran,
beyond. God-wrath! Babel's likely source.
Worst disaster of the preatomic world--
the Biggest Bang, and
Bloodiest, as it crushed
packed rabbit-warrens
of clay unreinforced. For
centuries, the age went dark.

Forgivable. Folk, burned,
dared not rear--feared god-doom.
And yet this, the biggest building boom
of its millennium, and well beyond,
was really just
stockpiling plus
bad dusting, plus... one spark.

A Mesopotamian armory explodes, wrecking its city-state. Dream sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge.

Mortal, always clean your Room
Of inflammatory, allergenic Dust!
Only a Diligent
Job of Vacuum
Forestalls Divine
Incendiary Doom.


  1. Clearly the dream wants me to write a shape-poem with mushroom-cloud verses. Given the implicit threat, I'd better obey...
  2. I am allergic to housedust; it promotes inflammations. I better clean up, even if it provokes a short-term sneeze or two. Better than a buildup to...

Rebecca Solnit's A Paradise Built In Hell proves my dream right about both cause and scale of the biggest preatomic explosion humans ever caused: a munitions accident did destroy a whole city! In 1917, a freighter with 3,000 tons of explosives caught fire in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The ensuing blast was fully a third the power of Hiroshima, destroying downtown, killing people a kilometer away.

Better not to worship gods of war.

LISTS AND LINKS: archeology - time-travel dreams - ancient Mesopotamia - cities - shit - oops! - explosions - health advice & warnings - allergies & environmental illness - dream poems - more shape-poems: Fall at the Right Size, The Cuteness Pageant & Five Blunt Teeth

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