Pax Romana, 66.6 AD and More


by Kirby Olson (September 2018)

Fire of Rome, Hubert Robert, 1771


“the problems of violence and inhumanity

that faced the world at the time of

Christ’s birth still exist in such

areas as Vietnam”

General Westmoreland

Spartanburg SC Herald-Journal, A1,

December 24, 1966


Children brought out for the fun

guests of Nero

paraded before senators


Lions released


The Word is a dove

Children kneel before the dark Lord

The crowd licks its lips

The hooves of horses can be heard


A square of swords


collides with the Iceni


As centurions far north attack a village

the pillages increase

Snow falls (as carrion circle above)


New children are collected for the Pax Romana,

& marched to Rome.


Rome burned in 64 AD.

Nero committed suicide in 68 AD.

Two Men Talking, L.S. Lowry, 1941



After church, I met the former mayor on the bridge.

I asked him about trapezoids, zero,

and the relative sizes of infinity.

Beneath the green arch was the brown roiling river.

He talked of the smallest number greater than zero.


The mathematician in his wool cap, wool sweater,

retired, his head tilted back, the flattened rivets

around us holding the span together, the river

must go somewhere. It starts up in Stamford, and winds

to the sea, “a twisted access path,” to infinity.



Kirby Olson is a tenured English professor at SUNY-Delhi in the western Catskills. His books include a novel (Temping), about an English professor who starts a circus in Finland; a book of poems entitled Christmas at Rockefeller Center

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast

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