The Vice of Kings

And strength it selfe by confidence growes weake,
This new world may be safer, being told
The dangers and diseases of the old:
For with due temper men do then forgoe,
Or covet things, when they their true worth know.
          —Donne1

                    i.

Disfigured muses abusing our talent drawing conclusions from
life’s infinite unfolding of unfulfilling moments, mistaking for
its meaning the toll time takes from our
aging faces as premature payment for the roles
we play without any talent or training makes
isolation in this Eden seem like nothing, worth
the vague occupation of our minds with frivolous
things no one would waste breath on saying,
or buy, spilling as I am now free-associative
phrasings like a mist of rain or an

                    ii.

anxious fistful of reactionary paint-thinner onto the blank
pages of a stranger’s imagination, whispering wind shaking
from a brainstem stains of swollen grapes bursting
open recondite testaments, the making of statements breaking
them, emboldening my garden of thorns outgrowing their
meager mode of mere existence, suppliant splinters no
longer barely-living, flowering, for once, in the glowing
morning-after before one’s personal hell freezes over, thriving
hangers-on nursing a cure for fame’s hangover, dragging
nails across monumental canvases exiled princes purchase, their

                    iii.

thirst framing them, collectors of the perverse exploiting
the tortured intimacies of memory’s internalized riots erasing
the false flags of forgotten nations, this craft’s
raising of my spirits resurrecting enemies within rooting
for my undoing, relentless ambition dialoguing without apology,
ungluing the coolness of my composure, all-consuming vindictive
intricacies denuding truant nuances of their fog-laden costumes,
a conspiracy of half-baked theories coaxing from hiding
confidence which walks off, putting into practice trying-too-hard,
auxiliary ardour soldiering forward playing exterminating angel and

                    iv.

executioner, gaming with the outworn soul for a
patient place in the face of a storm,
wagering art for entertainment, they are my caricatures,
heretic impersonators of Sisyphus bowling with barn-burners, incendiary
revelatory boulders they roll against the bitter judgment
of my head’s plaster walls, illuding bastard partners
of ours criminal in their falling from grace
and stripping self-immolating flesh of its innocence, skinhead
penitents folding prayerful hands into pretzel-twists taking liberties
in their striking funereal poses, it is very

                    v.

taxing interacting with your own shadows, devastating admitting
that their shapes know better than we do
the why and the how of those vagrant
eclipses throwing the weight of planets onto constellations,
what can I say? Pain is in the
way, obviates any occasion to recuperate from its
loss my reputation no apology can resuscitate and
relay messages again in the manner of the
minor prophets, I am now an adjective, restyled
by fools into an expletive, wage slavery like

                    vi.

warfare, pray like a saint, take me at
my word and be left wanting, that is
the disappointment, the uttered confusion to which my
silence has been alluding, this muted fusion of
broken bones bending the truth, emending to new
uses its ruthlessness, fragments of burned notebooks being
repurposed into what I will call a poem,
this little illegitimate birthed from collusion between religion,
fantasy, and fiction, the vice of kings is
the unkindest decadence pitting children against parents, prodigies

                    vii.

divisive of dynasties, Vienna’s best-paid alienists incapable of
breaking through the shell of this mind of
mine alienating the general populace from the underlying
intentions of my best-laid plans, a hell-of-a-genre making
no sense, lyrics dismissed as superfluous, mistaken mysticism
seems oblivious to its critics, in love’s patient
embrace we wait for the validation of these
antics, the erection of sweat disadvantaging the masses,
dampening kindling to quench with perspiration fires it
cannot start or keep from bleeding, stirring freezing

                    viii.

hearts thawing to particles asbestos-like and tragic, sawdusted
lust swept-up into the dust-pan of love dangerous
as pent-up passion flashing its everything all over
the backdrop of hushed night, howling, teeth showing
no remorse or any sign of going down
without a bite, fighting decency for a final
piece of me, scheming demons eager to ignite
to full possession the sensationalism of this larger-than
life seeking its next prize, unseen envy creeping
like green vines of obscene ivy down my

                    ix.

spine, chroma keyed carrion competitive as deserting centurions
fighting over Christ’s loin-cloth toiling to take over
my body, defying statutes with cruel signs crying
not to buy what seems so satisfying but
might disappoint, two hearts hang from a tree,
make a ‘B,’ pause for a beat and
breathe, tempt me from the valiant nonchalance of
my stunting contrapposto into sauntering the unapologetic strut-of-no-shame,
taunting gawping onlookers with a hooker on every
streetcorner shouting my name as if it were

                    x.

one of god’s names, shattered fragments of what
were mortals articulating shattered fragments of divine flame
in a reverential refrain their tongues tease into
one thing whose meaning escapes even me, cracked
Shem HaMephorashes peeling like paint from the beaten
faces of weathered belles, cruci-picture perfect fictions weeping
looking-glass redemption en masse, warped vinyl siren-songs too
often spun by cunts who do not know
well enough their psalms, puncturing into streetlight a
collection of burner poems whose lines are numbered,

                    xi.

whose verses are long, a pulse’s pounding bass
resounding in a round church with no corners
for god or the devil to push us
into, the only pain without pity, this circuitous
journey of cruising, in public, for casual sex
with men of similarly questionable morals caressing us
with its gaze dressed in lust’s haughty fever,
Wilde called it ‘feasting with panthers,’ an insatiable
craving for illusory and ephemeral surrogates of desire’s
nameless antecedent, white bliss filling a burnt ship

                    xii.

of parting lips welcoming damage, singed and singing
nearer to the bones’ marrow we swallow what
grief takes in an instant, replacing with the
shame of distance the thing by which we
thought we would never be disgraced, this discouraging
blister of a kiss bubbling under skin until
it can no longer wait, a cathedral of
a mouth welcomes congregations of pearlescent fish, false
promises tasting of salt, thick failures who swim
through until their tails thin into fin-tips of

                    xiii.

shadows, menacing and dorsal, throats sheathing swords with
the stealth of sharks, winnowing ripples of stains
windows illuminate, sunken into the pits of stomachs,
these are the seeds my ribs cage, knowing
the vice of kings gets you past this
garden’s gate no guardian angles can suffice to
keep from tracing a path through its maze,
sin is a labyrinth which makes of everyone
a Minotaur none can slay, forgiveness is a
myth your prayers perpetuate, death with waxen wings.

__________
1John Donne, “An Anatomy of the World”, [Stanza 1, Lines 86–90], in An Anatomy of the World: wherein, by occasion of the untimely death of Mistris Elizabeth Drury the frailty and the decay of this whole world is represented, printed at London for Samuel Macham in 1611; page [8].