Treasure Island

gershon hepner

(5 3 38 / leipzig)

Belshazzar's Feast


Babylon fell as the writing predicted
in the midst of the feast of Belshazzar.
Such prophesies rarely can be interdicted,
though few can have sounded much crasser
than that which appeared on the wall in the night
when the wine flowed and women were dancing,
bare-breasted in skirts that were wrapped mini-tight,
Babylonian bodies enhancing.

The two thousand nobles and guests he invited
were drinking from goblets of gold
that Nebuchadnezzar had stolen, benighted,
most blasphemous, brazen and bold.
Jerusalem burned and the Jews had been taken
to Babylon, branded as slaves,
though they and the Temple had not been forsaken:
while Babylon conquers, God saves.

No experts could tell what the writing declared,
but the Queen told the King: 'There's a man
who has proved to the lions he cannot be scared;
let us ask him to see if he can
understand what the words say and what they portend.'
So they called for him, Daniel his name.
'You have to forgive me if I should offend, '
he said, 'for the words spell your shame.'

He read them aloud and said: 'Mene Mene,
and Tekel Upharsin. They mean
God has counted the people he needed to weigh,
and finds wanting the King, greatest Queen.'
That night the king died and Darius the Mede
to the great throne the next day ascended,
but not till Belshazzar had managed to feed
all his guests, and the party had ended.


(1997)

Submitted: Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Edited: Tuesday, February 15, 2011
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