Cavafy’s Barbarians

by John Gohorry

What’s going to happen to us now without the barbarians?
For us, they were a solution of sorts.
Cavafy, Waiting for the Barbarians (1904)
Reports from the borders are wrong;
the barbarians  are crossing them daily.

What can we do to stop them?                                                        

We can employ more guards.  Build a great wall.
top it with razor wire, seed minefields,
pound their bases with smart bombs,
blow them up at the roadside.

We can cut them to pieces with knives,
axes, machetes.

But if they keep coming? What then?

They will keep coming.

What then?

An enemy greater than both
is all that can bring us together.

So far, the radar’s clear.