Thursday, March 20, 2008


Here are three different pieces, all stemming from the phrase "The Smoke of Kings." The last two are translations from imaginary parables that came out of my parable translation project with Hugh Thomas.


burn the tree but spare
the leaves

find a scar
then make a king around it

turn the television to
the channel for knives

divide things up so small that
even the dogs are invisible


I have seen it, the smoke of kings, rising from the throne. we’d thought the kings would remain solid, and not become shadow as the soldiers whisper on the battlements, “over there in the hills, the army that marches to replace us with fire.”


I have seen it: the smoke of kings, rising into the sky. For each king is a train steaming toward us, who are bound to the tracks.

In the club car, pictures of other kings on the cards, their smooth one eyed faces, steadfast, laconic, white.

There’s a bridge across a river, a village on the other shore. The train goes into the temple. Like many, it does not attend to pray but to witness, the plume rising from its chimney, a shawl of smoke.

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