by Charles Fishman

He had the charm of a Chinese emperor
and loved to mingle with his victims
and stood, invincible but somewhat mincingly,
ready to divide them, mongrel from mongrel,
his arm raised and potent as the staff
of Moses. Those he permitted to linger
in the anterooms of death were manacled
by his power. He could mangle or heal
as desired. Yet his wand picked them out
with the delicacy of a watercolorist’s brush
and rarely swooped or slashed: the symphony
he conducted required restraint, a deft elegance,
balletic dash. Each transport he ministered to
mastered him, left him elevated, a Mongol conqueror
transformed: he would change a whole people
into ash and absence, into silence and smoke.

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