No one knows who had it first
but soon enough we had the data,
travelogues for paradise,
details of its walls and gardens,
angels in their holding patterns,
the promise of the just reward,
the manifest of bashful maidens
ushered out for warriors
who’ve blown themselves—and infidels—
cheerfully to pieces.
We note the need for punishment,
the artists and composers who
oblige us with the ecstasies
their patrons have commissioned:
frescoes dense with flailing thighs
plunging to the rising
sound of boy sopranos.
No one knows who thought it up.
It goes a long way back
but right now some of us have had
a slightly better one,
the notion we are nothing
less or more than drifts of dust
which, after decent intervals,
will be reborn as stars.