“Nero” by Fred Fox

Fred Fox


Nero fiddled while Rome burned.
He was secure on
one of the seven hills.

His larder was full.
His coffers overflowed with gold.
He was the supreme ruler.

Below, in all directions,
the sky was lit up
by fires of his burning city.

He took it all in, feeling immune
from the ravages below.
Nero was above it all.

From his fiddle
flowed gentle melodies of joy
and the sweetness of life.

He was mired in his own invincibility.
But what would he have to rule over
after his city was burned?

We sneer at Nero as a fool.
We are superior, know better.
We have atomic missiles.

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017


Fred Fox: “At 103 years old, I still look up and say, ‘If anyone is listening, thank you for another nice day!’ In poetry I boil things down to an essence.”

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