Robert S. King
Covering the Ears
A man on the east side of a wall
cannot see the road beyond,
nor see through the cracks
the setting sun, nor feel the stones
sifting away in the sands of time.
He is a stone statue stood in place
one day at the ghost of a wall
raining down in a local sand storm.
Even then he will not unhinge
his rock hands from petrified ears,
will not listen to the small grains
of himself blowing out, away.
Only when faith is down to the powder
of bare bones will he shout toward
the east wind for help. Even then
he believes the empty echo of his voice
comes from God who’ll blow these stones
The Invisible Man at the Grocery
You'd think an invisible man
would have no trouble staying
out of sight, but I always get
the squeaky wheel, cause panic
and frantic security guards.
Nervous shoppers swear
the cart self-propels, that
shaking cereal boxes, heavy cola
cases, and lettuce heads leap
into the buggy. A flying frozen
pizza prompts a UFO report.
My money is invisible too,
so I no longer perform magic
with a cart, never check out, never
incite sirens arresting bags
swaying home on their own.
Instead, I nibble away the day
in a grocery aisle. An energy drink
empties into thin air, plastic knives
duel in the air face high,
and a sandwich bites itself repeatedly.
Some shoppers flee, some
freeze and watch this miracle,
surely proof of God.
Touching the Dead
Now a coffin is your open house.
A realtor sign outside greets
both mourners and buyers
who blow through the living room
like leaves lifted by your fall.
Your wake scares me awake.
I am a hollow tree uprooted.
My eyes petrify like yours,
fixed forever on their moment of death.
Like the whole forest bright with fall,
you became leafless, a skeleton of loss,
a nest of splinters and breaking limbs.
I wonder if something still aches
in your hollow bones, or am I worrying
about myself, the shape of pain
to come, when we’ll both live forever
in the soil of separate homes?
The Rise of Democracy
―after George Orwell and Hans Christian Andersen
When the wind comes growling
through the cracks of the castle
like invisible water filling rooms,
like the foul breath of the rabble
and the scent of prowling alpha males,
the royal ones swim in oblivious
bubbles full of filtered water,
safe in their towers and higher stories,
never hearing the spit storm beneath them
from lower lives whose hungers have swollen
larger than the House of Plenty.
The moat rises and the roof begins to leak.
Needles of raindrops pop the King’s bubble.
The Queen’s savings for a rainy day rupture
in a windfall of gold coins and jewels,
raining down begrudged manna for the masses
not bequeathed by a Queen of Hearts.
Louder and louder the wet wind blows, rising
from cesspools and rough streets to loot and howl,
to blow the robes from perfumed bodies,
expose an emperor without clothes,
strip the Queen’s body of its pampers.
For a time anarchy overthrows monarchy.
And then the filthy are filthy rich,
drunk with power to spend, decree,
and proclaim that tyranny lives
only in the stems of plastic flowers
stabbed into the King’s unmarked grave.
In party uniforms, they gorge, dance,
and celebrate, promise to be kind
to their kind who are all created equal
but some more equal than others whose hunger
is no greater than mumble and grumble,
but a pack of empty stomachs
growls louder and louder in the rising wind.