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Epiphany by John Roche

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After sundown

safely back in their legislative chamber

relieved to be resuming their speechifying

the Senators rubbed their wounds, sipped their wine

and orated through the night. 

 

But afterwards, in their beds, more than a few had the terrible realization 

the awful revelation

that no matter how much they deferred to Caligula

how much they acquiesced to his insatiable demands

how many accolades they placed on his head

how many virgins they sent him to defile

how blind the eye they turned to his pilfering of the Treasury 

and dereliction of his duties

how many Christians and Celts they let him feed to the lions

how many insults they bore in silence

it would never be enough.

 

Caligula would gladly sic them to the mob

Had that very day forced these octogenarian Senators to cower 

in the basement of the Capitol

while vandals roamed the venerable halls and ransacked their offices

while a ruffian clown stood at the dais

and a barbarian sat in the chair of the President Pro Tempore

 

Fortunately, the epiphany soon faded

By mid-day they were back soaking in the baths

regaling each other with bawdy stories and boasting

of the Emperor’s love for His devoted servants.

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