When the tyrants shed their thugwear,
they shiver in scratchy long johns
as they gather around the stalagmite
where each of them first pricked his finger.
They repeat the intractable oath
that they took long ago (without thinking):
They swear, in exchange for control
over desolate patches and dunghills
to pollute every pool of cool water
and humiliate thinkers and doers -
lest their arid dominions be braced
by the breezes and gales of improvement.
When the tyrants shed their thugwear
they gather in evil’s dry throat
acquiescing once more to scorched earth,
and pledging allegiance to rot.