Belshazzar’s Table

by Lori Lasseter Hamilton

knees knocked, wood shook
like Lebanon cedars lightning-split.
Eyes widening, hand writing
“mene, mene, tekel, upharsin”,
God’s fingers carving glyphs.
You’ve raised gold goblets in boastful toast
between Babylon walls. Cups not meant to leave temple
but your father stole them.
Nebuchadnezzar never thought his son would meet end
at Mede’s hands.
God’s numbered your days.
You’ve been weighed
in the balance, found wanting.
Belshazzar, your Babylon falls,
split between Persians and Medes
lying in wait outside gold walls
as your servants bring you Jerusalem cups.
You refused to honor God, worshipped silver,
proclaimed only these gold cups are wine-worthy.
You thought nothing could touch you
but you never saw the cuneiform script that reads
“Blood Must Run”,
the way I saw it in a dream
on white wallpaper sheet,
with thin blood streaks striping the white.
Sometimes like Daniel I dream,
same dream since I was six,
of a heaven I could reach
by riding elevator from church first floor,
and when I got there,
heaven was a hardware store
with Native Americans roaming the aisles.
Last night I dreamed an all-girl band played in a back room
and on the wall in front of their microphones,
“Blood Must Run” in the center
but I wonder, whose blood?
Yours, mine, America’s, Belshazzar?
Maybe mine must run
or maybe blood of bulls must trickle down to melting ice
while gold glass shatters in Vegas towers.
Sun rays explode hotel windows,
God’s fingers drawing glyphs again.
All’s dusted gold, even man’s denials that
“everything’s better than ever”.
See his tiny, maskless mouth mouthing the words
great and fine?
Lips the color of amber grain waves,
proud, nude, and cloth-shorn
as America’s blood runs, red wine
on Belshazzar’s feast table.

Lori Lasseter Hamilton is a member of Sister City Connection, a collective of women poets, storytellers, and spoken word artists in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. She is a medical records clerk for a Birmingham hospital, and she earned a bachelor of arts in journalism from University of Alabama Birmingham, with a minor in English. Some of Lori’s poems have appeared in Steel Toe Review, Birmingham Arts Journal, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. She is a 50-year-old breast cancer survivor. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

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