surveys the ashes furring his boots.
He knew she was fiery from the start,
  the blood-and-bone shades
  smirked on her face
in the first overly-hospitable arm-rub,
the Phoenician queen
with a bold red smile
and his elbow cupped in her hand–
swinging her hips for her subjects
  in flame-coloured silk
  and burning hair
scorching the rope of her spine.
A row of laughing teeth,

anyone could be forgiven
for thinking her light-hearted,
  a hopeless romantic
  but not in the lethal sense
with hands so neat and girlish
they could be carved from soap,
meant for pulling lilacs
not daggers meant for brutes.
Cleaved to his chest like a baby,
  flinging herself at his ankles,
  she howled in her throne
like an animal
as his shape drifted into the sea.

He returned for a catch-up in Carthage.
He probably shouldn’t have left her.
  Flicking a string of tears
  salt-pearled from his eye,
he swears he can feel
her sticky blood
hot between hero’s fingers–
blacker than the glittering coals,
her blistered skin curled back
  where the moon half-snarls
  from the smoking blade
sprung like a birch
from her bones.


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