The Ruling Rod

The scepter of his empire
had become a walking cane,
achy joints burning like fire
when the skies conspired to rain,
and though many lands still feared
the sharp tap of his gold rod,
they sensed, too, that there soon neared
the fall of that ailing god,
yet, meanwhile he did not fear
the whispers behind his back
nor the dagger or the spear
or any plot of attack;
what he feared above all now
was a change in the season,
knowing, with a wincing brow,
agonies worse than treason.

Heir Abhorrent

Inborn conqueror, scepter for his rattle,
crawling belligerence, babbling for battle,
teething on a monarch’s ring, his ordained bib
soaked red in the christening blood of his crib,
collecting a toy chest of corpses, piled up,
a cool eye as he drinks from a sucky cup
that brims with bloodshed, his cherub cheeks swollen
with conquests and the coveted spoils stolen
from others whose worth is but the vaguest sense
hinging on his fickle object permanence.

C’est La Vie Sucre

The Empress Josephine had all the pearls
that a woman could want around her neck,
wealth envied by ladies and dukes and earls,
like the treasure from a galleon wreck,
yet below-deck, behind her crimson mouth,
the sugarcane sweets from her hometown isle
on Martinique, down in the Carib South,
had rotted her teeth brown behind her smile—
brown like molasses, and no pearls could hide
the oyster-halitosis in her quips,
for though the empire fetched pearls far and wide,
she had no pearls within her foul clam lips.