Jaded Tomb, A Sestina

How long has this river crept past eternal

majestic mountains, whose bridal veil

waterfalls flow without even a shade

or hint of pause? The river runs onward, as dragon-

flies hover and discover life as winks of jade

praying for favor in the eyes of the king.

The old fool died, court jester and king

together, entombed, while the eternal

guardsmen keep watch. Terracotta warriors veil

their emotions behind stone the shade

of iron. Were their eyes once as green as dragon

scales, or hopefully hazel or just jaded?

Seven sacrificed musicians and their jade-

encrusted instruments, litter the tomb. The king

will enjoy his afterlife enbalmed in a concert of eternal

song–but will he dance? this emperor, our god, alive behind a veil

of mortality, incased in incense and shades

of mourning beneath the moon, the starry dragon,

and other constellations. Undisturbed, our dragon

emperor dreams; reclining his royal head on a jade

pillow. Two thousand tiles cover the king

like splendid scales of a dry snakeskin. His eternal

decrees and deeds will echo throughout every vale

of the vast kingdom. Life’s become a shade,

the shell of a once great man–now pale, drains every shade

of color. His black beard has turned white like dragon

smoke–but not as hot. His cold corpse is armored in a jade

suit colder than ice that glistens in the crown of the king–

and heavier too. In his hand he holds a memento from his eternal

queen and counselor–a jade cicada–whose cocoon veil

tears and sheds away after molting–unveiling

the hidden life within–bright against the shade

of darkness. In the year of the dragon

a celestial stream flows overhead whenever the  jade

tinted northern lights beckon kings

and kingdoms toward an Aurora eternal.