Friday, June 17, 2016


Over the years my father convinced himself
That he’d never woken hovering over his bed
Still, he wondered.

My mother had an ancestor named Aaron
Who weighted his pockets with stones
To avoid floating off.

Savonarola’s jailers found him asleep in his cell
Gently bumping against the ceiling.
They burned him anyway.

When King Sweeney recovered his wits
He ceased being able to fly. When I go mad
I will remember this.

(And then, an old poem about the King:

You think, perhaps, that it is easy to be mad;
“Farewell, Reason! I’m off; I’ve slipped your chain.”
I tell you it is not. Three years, seven months,
Six days I have followed Sweeny, who was King
And now lives in trees. Madness, like much else,
Takes practice. For the first six months, Sweeny
Could understand never a word the birds said
And feared their endless tweeting would drive him sane.
He could fly as soon as he and reason parted
But was clumsy at it, crashing into trees,
Perching awkwardly at night, liable to fall.
He flies well now; threading through the forest
Listening to the curlews and laughing at their jokes
(His courtesy is royal; curlews’ humor is dull).
His dreams tell him he will be king again
Unable to flutter a foot above the ground.
I prepare against that day.)

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