Beheading the King

after Robert W. Chambers’ King-in-Yellow stories

The King Is Dead!

The blade shimmered,
sharpened to a razor’s edge,
catching the rising sun,
in the chill air of dawn.

The planks that comprised
the ungainly contraption
of the guillotine had been cut
in the King’s Royal Forest.

When the guards forced
him onto the platform,
stripped of his saffron robes
and his gold jewelry,

he was revealed for
the frail and harmless
old man he had become.
He was trembling.

The blade fell swiftly
once it was released.
His hoary head tumbled
into a yellow basket.

A cry of exaltation
erupted from the
mob as if they were
a single voice.

Long Live the King!

That evening the King
hosted a celebratory party
for his wives, consorts,
relatives, and toadies.

His Yellowness provided
rich succor to his guests:
the sweet and spicy pate
of an unnamed meat,

honeyed wine in golden
goblets, flavored with
cinnamon and served
with a twist of lime.

To the rapt attention
of all in attendance,
His Majesty related in
precise and graphic detail,

the range of emotions
he had experienced
during his incarceration
and summary execution.

From his fabricated fear
to the fatal moment
his head was loped off,
and all his yellow eyes

could see before
his swift extinction
was blue sky with
the yellow gone.

He thought he might
try it again someday
when he was bored.
Next time he’d arrange

to deliver a diatribe
to his disloyal subjects,
chastising them for
not knowing their place

in the world as it was
and was meant to be,
before dying horribly
for their amusement.

Appeared in my collection Artifacts