Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Sun King and the Outlaw (prose poem)

The Sun King and the Outlaw

King Louis in his finery, the pearl and grey of his raiment satin
in the shade, luxurious in his bound empire, hemmed in by Alps
and Channel of plastic net bound to fenceposts by cable ties.
Robin (the Hood they call him, for he covers his shoulders and
his tight-feathered head with brown as if to conceal the red blazon
on his breast, and to no avail his yellow-rimmed eyes) tilts his
head and asks with half-parted lips What's this, What's this I see
behind the forest of grass and the high hard fence?

The emperor
answers not, the fat worm of his scepter still on the grass, not
waving high and flicking tailtip back and forth. A still as if he sees
Robin not, as still as if he is unaware that this outlaw fills him with
arrow-strokes of contempt. The king lays and lies as he lays, feigning
sleep or illness, his humors balanced behind slitted eyes. There is
no swaying of rump or setting of hind claws in the earth. He is inert.
Robin hops closer, closer to the thicket of grass behind fence. Cocks
his head again, looking to me observing from the England of my deck,
and back at the sun-stunned and pent king. It can't reach me? Robin
the Hood asks. Then I shall have some fun. He hops closer and closer
to the fence.

The Sun King sleeps in his private Versailles. A hop and a hop
closer, a tilt forward. The twisted spring of His Highness uncoils, an
explosion in three dimensions, and he is through the weakness at the
corner of the fence, sleek and gray. He strikes down Robin with a blow.
But Robin flies. The King's claws were pulled by the treaty that brought
him to the throne. Robin flees for the safety of his home country the sky
while earth-bound cat and bemused human sit in the capitals of their
Lilliputian nations, and laugh or snarl as to their natures.

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