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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

together again.




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.

covering the ears
invisible man at the grocery
touching the dead
rise of democracy
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