My king is dead—Long live my king!
His hopes, his jeans, everything.
Locked to rot in some looming tower,
Where the walls drip with his blood, feeding righteous flowers.
I long to feel the strength he had,
How he spent his hours gripping
Waterman fountains before IBM.
Sinistra—smearing the ink on the underside of his palm,
Leaving blue smudges on the sofa, the walls, my cheek.
I imagine they tried to beat it out,
With rulers and sticks and threats:
Again, do it again, and this time do it right!
How he must have wanted to shout.
But I know. I know his strength. And that strength was:
A family trip to Italy,
Has acquired the gloss of reverie.
Climbing the steps of that slanted error
My mother was afflicted with heat—not
And leaning against an opening in the stone,
Her cheeks flushed red, her ragged breath slow,
My brother and I sprinted past her, to the top we go!
Our king stayed behind, to compel or extol,
I will never know.
The sacrifices that were burned upon his pyre;
The hopes and dreams that were lost in light
Of various other, more pressing fires.
Myself included, my small, fat, screaming self,
I feel his loss in my eyes, like a piece of sleep,
That I cannot dislodge, not that I’d want to.
He chose a life of servitude
That was his key, the fundamental matter
Of the choices he made.
To understand him, you must know that
For his family, he gave his fate.
On the roof my brother gazed over the edge,
Seeing the picturesque city, white-washed as time’s song.
I stood at the center, consumed with dread
As tourists and their families smiled, flashed like lightening—Nikons.
His solid footsteps on the worn masonry
(I’d know that sound anywhere
The firm certitude of planting a shoe
Sons learn to walk from their fathers
Daughters from a mother’s clues).
As I squatted petrified he came up to me.
He placed a hand on my shoulder, that comforting cue,
Clasped my little hand,
And guided me to the view.
I wish I could condense the lessons learned:
Always tell the truth; how to punch a hole in the wall.
His outbursts were terrifying in their beauty,
Tendons sticking out on his throat,
Veins pounding, sweat, hands quaking,
As my mother tore his shirts to shreds,
Screaming get the fuck out.
I couldn’t help but feel guilty by association,
And when he’d leave he’d never actually left.
Would come home an hour or two later,
Open my door, a beam of light,
His shadow across my bed,
Good night, bud,
Hey, bud, I’m sorry.
And he would lift me and I would clutch his shoulders,
As he held me close.
I cannot forget standing where,
Galileo may never have dropped two masses into air.
My king, his royal attire of In-N-Out burger threads,
Levi jeans, his herd beside him, a slight stubble of red
Upon his cheek, the blood line tying monarch to heir,
A flash of red was our unique despair.
He wore it much prouder than I— with such gall.
As I grew I buzzed it, he grew it longer as he
And the fact is and will remain forever,
That it was I who locked him in that tower.
A slow, degrading march to regicide,
I put him up there, and I swallowed the key.
And still I hear him, bloody, broken, but still present;
I cannot escape him, he has left but he was always right.
This complicated monarch, this embattled king,
Forever shoring his foundations so that his children might be.
My king is dead, but his name shall live on, listen, it rings!
My king, my father, my dad, is dead—
And I am anything but a king.
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