Keith Haring

The resistance begins underground.

Stepping out of the subway car,

A bespectacled young man,

Armed only with a piece of chalk,

Takes to a blank space of wall between two advertisements

And furiously etches a depiction

Of the Burning of Rome.

As a crowd of curious onlookers gathers ‘round him,

The scene comes to life beneath his nimble fingers:

Nero sits in the foreground, laughing maniacally,

Plucking out the chords to “Desolation Row”

On his lyre.

Citizens, both plebeians and peasants,

Make their way through a triumphal arch

As the hounds of Hell trail them in hot pursuit,

While the lone soothsayer,

Who foresaw all of this coming,

Asks forgiveness from the entire pantheon of gods

Before she chews on a cyanide pill.

The audience on the subway platform oohs and ahhs,

Unaware of what’s taking place above them,

Inches from their heads:


A vicious counteroffensive is unfolding.

Missiles loaded with hateful ideologies,

Reduce the cityscape to rubble.

Nihilist tanks

Crush any and all opposition

While fatalistic fighter jets

Run down what few survivors remain.

In an instant,

Years of hard work,


And prosperity, erased,

Completely obliterated.


But the seed has been planted.

In the muggy, dank subway station,

Protected from the destruction and violence of the surface world,

Something beautiful will arise,

A beacon in a landscape obscured by smoke and ash.

© Chester Sakamoto