the thin kings of aboutness

From Part I:

backward broken pushed against the known,
each awaiting defamation,
two armies fought and fled their thin kings
waiting down among the rushes

forward spoken harsh against the wind,
each a summons hoarse men whispered
plans and expectations lost are we to blame
the thin kings’ ponds were stirring

inwards driven quick against the mark,
each an inchlet close to dying
hopis lost and raiders of the damned sing
for the thin kings’ fateful pushes

outward spoken quick against the door,
each awaiting degradation
two armies raised and wasted time until
the thin kings planned the battle.

the thin kings of aboutness sought
to subjugate the realm of thought,
and ‘gainst the nothing that they fought
the void and emptiness they brought.

of when and what the why became
the struggle birthed from whence they came:
one blind, one deaf, one mute, one lame –
the thin kings and their sorrowed fame.

the thin kings of aboutness yearned
to separate the great unlearned;
and ‘gainst the grip of death they turned
the fire of life, and so were burned.

of which and who the where becomes
the battle spawned from endless drums:
one great, one small, one burst, one dumb –
the thin kings and their kingdom come.

From Part III:

the ink spilled swift and held itself
as nothing kept its silent vow;
letters cowered as the pages dressed
the thin kings in their shining raiment.

wordless crept the secret cause
as something slept in silent death;
whispers shivered as the horses swept
the thin kings through the alleys raining.

the crowd stood murmured and beheld
as nothing stood and spoke parables;
betters glowered as the gates pressed
the thin kings up against their subjects.

worthless wept the one lament
as something passed in hurtful bliss;
lepers wondered as the healers sought
the thin kings in their broken armor.

in winter’s cold and bitter debt
the mistress learns her alphabet
to write of sorrows unfelt yet
until the thin kings she’ll forget

too soon the memory fades, she knew
the trumpets blown the wind it blew
and who remembers then? too few
the thin kings and their kingdom, too.

release me from this hardened shell
outside into the fires of hell
for I’ve a riddle yet to tell
the thin kings and their tolling bell.

a riddle, yes, perhaps a tale
of riders, horses, crop and flail
of frozen rain turned into hail
and hands forgotten with their nail.

the answer sought the lonely kings
beyond the gallows where they swing
yet not a one could bear to bring
their focus on the ghastly thing.

1993

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