VERSES FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
From UNLIKELY STORIES MOSTLY 1983
Poem: Alasdair Gray © 2005
6 – The Emperor’s Injustice, in ‘Five Letters from an Eastern Empire’
a child’s yellow clogs cracked by horses’ hooves.
A land weeps for the head city, lopped by sabre, cracked by hooves,
the houses ash, the people meat for crows.
A week ago wind rustled dust in the empty market.
“Starve,” said the moving dust, “Beg. Rebel. Starve. Beg. Rebel.”
We do not do such things. We are peaceful people.
We have food for six days, let us wait.
The emperor will accommodate us, underground.
It is sad to be unnecessary.
All the bright mothers, strong fathers, raffish aunts,
lost sisters and brothers, all the rude servants
are honoured guests of the emperor, underground.