after “The Coast of Genoa” by Jasper Francis Cropsey

Oldest of the tall lighthouses,

Tallest of the old ones,


Do not let your ships sail for the Indies;

Leave the Americas alone.


Keep them out of the Caribbean;

Let Africa be.


Call back Columbus

With empty hands.


Call back your slave vessels

With empty hulls.


Attend to your own wounds.

Your crumbling architecture testifies


Of centuries of sacking and being sacked,

Of cannon fire and cannon fodder,


Of the banners of a tenth of Europe,

Of wars with Venice and Milan.


Attend, also, to your own joys.

Scale your peaks—with boulders, waterfalls, mosses, trees.


Watch your birds, skittering

And swooping along your churning coast.


Spend more time with your barrels of good wine,

Your wheels of good cheese.


Put to better use the skills and sextants

Of your honored sailors and shipwrights.


Dredge what’s buried beneath

Your morning and evening tides.


Rebuild your ruins,

Your piles of iron and stone.


Call home your ships with your shining.

Shine shine shine.