Considering Your Offer

And the regicide Oliver Cromwell,
sitting at his fire, watching wood-light show off
his wooden room. Late nights thinking

why can’t these people just take what’s good for them.
Shuts the book in his lap, listens to the moths
bathe in the dust of the rafters.

Your face across the table.
You are saying, why don’t we collaborate.

This is the kind of world which uses child actors
to tell us myopia is the way forward.
We don’t have to live in this world, you are saying,
I can take care of you. And it becomes

a question of permission. The beams of light
from a taxi turning around.
The music a younger population listens to.

If religious conversion could make sense of it for you,
then what do you need me for.

Cromwell crushed Ireland.
Signing the third spot on the king’s death warrant,
he sentenced a direct connection to God.

He said think of me as with liberty.

I remember locking myself into the restaurant bathroom
and punching a dent into the stall door

and also the square package with dry pasta,
olive oil, canned tomatoes that arrived from you
right when my food money ran out.

So much was still in sin and unsaved. And for the Irish,
there was little else. He said atrocities
only upon those carrying arms
but we know how difficult that can be—

so many of them are in on it
or harboring the armed
or it’s in their hearts to worship wrongly and hate us.

You can appreciate the duplicity. You take my hand
and lower your forehead to it and cry. You’re still asking.

He is still at fireside thinking.
The servants pass, reordering his home.
Listens for an arrival he knows will come.

Seems killing a godhead, waging war,
trying to protect isn’t enough.

The outcome recorded. You can read this now
and know why my hand retreated,
leaving your forehead on the table.

You can read, Diary 23 Nov 1658: Saw the superb Funerall
of the Protector. How things change
and sometimes a year is nothing but others drag on. You can read,

Diary 30 Jan 1661: Smelled posthumous beheading
and hanging of the Protector. Could not see for the crowds.