Saturday Night in the Tomb of the Boy King


I stared at my popcorn ceiling
lit by the jangle under the door,
imagined the snowcapped Ural Mountains
tunneled by bearded Russians,
dancing red from ice and vodka,
juggling knives and strangling accordions.

I traced the pothook crack
of the fallen statues
and trumpet-vine pagodas
on the watery road to Mandalay
with temple domes above the palms
and a sky of gilded wine.

Heard the caps and bottles,
bone drums and cymbals of Sandwich Isles,
smelled the poppies and cloves that Marco wore
in Dadu, led a prayer in the runic smoke
on the mast of a Norse lord’s funeral.

The headlights shrunk through the blinds,
and I became the bandaged, dead boy king,
dug up from a mound of amulets
and sand after three thousand years of waiting.