View from


(“The Triumph of Aemilius Paulus” by Carle Vernet (1789))

“You returned to Rome Augustus triumphant./King of defeated nation I trailed behind./To this day the senators can’t tell/which of the two wore the wreath.”


what sort of weapon really are you

that injures both the hunter and his prey,

that damages the plaintiff

as much as the defendant,

that the assailant afflicts

same as hurts his victim,

and leaves battlefields bereft

of victory or defeat

—like a barren wasteland

stripped of all rank and glory?


Look at me! One of your arrows

just bruised my worthiness,

one of your mighty whips

my dignity just wounded.

A nipping pain. A sting.

My limbs assumed the statues’ halting,

the air copied arctic winds,

empty the goblet of our discourse,

and a hemorrhage of tears

—inwardly cascading—

my melancholy flooded.


Look at you! Your whips and arrows

their poison left behind

that filled the dimples on your cheeks

with bitter tasting candy,

spoiled the red of victory

with streaks of yellow doubt,

and amply splattered on the rim

of your contented smile

vexing suspicions of fraud.


Silence in the battlefield of shame

Silence on the precincts of my lips

Muteness: my peace offering to you,

a vast estate of noiseless grace

like friendship spread between us,

an arid land to end the bloom

that bears as fruit your weapon,

a wise steppe that saves the rain

to drown my heart’s temptations,

lest I too your rose choose to cultivate,

lest I too your arms attempt to match.


You returned to Rome Augustus triumphant.

King of defeated nation I trailed behind.

To this day the senators can’t tell

which of the two wore the wreath.


Youlika Masry, a dual citizen of Greece and the United States, completed her legal education in Greece and France and also studied political theory in the United States. In addition to publishing poetry, she writes and translates books and essays in literature; the social sciences; religion and theology.

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