The Rusted King and the Drum
(Picks up where Between Dreams and Boats left off)
Rusted nails twisted into a diadem.
Three blood stones set in place of precious jewels.
On a scrap heap he sprawled with a ripped hem.
The King of Nimbledon, liege-lord of fools,
price of thieves and bully boys–pay him heed
all you creatures of the night, pickpockets,
lock breakers, streetwalkers. Orphans bend knee
to this tyrant, who reigns with a socket
wrench for a scepter that calls all to order.
His court of thugs, cheats and scruffy children
wait to see who’ll be nailed to the girder.
A stooped man enters, shepherds two children.
“What’s this interruption?” bellows their king.
“I bring you a gift of magic, my king.”
~ ~ ~
The man pushed a boy of nine into the light.
There was magic in his green eyes, no fear.
A child of three clung to his brother tight.
No magic in him or none stirred from fear.
“Come here boy, you’re worth more unharmed and death
does nothing but create stinking corpses.”
“His name’s Sarn, don’t know t’other one’s.” Deep breath,
wet coughs, the child-taker’s a walking corpse.
Sarn held tight to his brother, his feet rooted
in earth, green sparks danced in the scrap, clapped, banged
and clanged in a percussive “no” that booted
the king from his throne; open, his mouth hanged.
A smile crossed those cracked lips at the present.
Kingly indeed, a gift worth every cent.
~ ~ ~
Sarn woke to banging and the dream faded.
The room’s few furnishings crashed to the floor.
Ran sat by his side, not barricaded.
“No more bad dreams Papa.” Ran’s soft plea tore.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to…” Sarn rubbed his eyes.
“Make everything jump?” Ran slid off the bed,
rushed out of the room, returned with a prize.
He dragged a drum, “You have to come,” he said.
“And go where?” Sarn took the drum, slid its strap
over his shoulder and followed his son.
Mystified by a four year old child, trapped
by fragmenting sanity, he was done.
But he followed his son through the fortress,
double leafed doors and under a buttress.
~ ~ ~
Into a vaulted nave lined with pews, where
people attended mass, Ran placed a clay
babe in a manger while two statues stared.
They had halos and spikes meant to be rays.
“Now you play for him, on the drum,” Ran waved
to the clay baby in the manger stall.
Silence hung midnight thick from cross to grave.
“This is a quiet place,” but one that called
up memories of a raid, a rival
gang, a rusty king handing him a cross
that flared a fiery white, “you’re survival,”
said King, “go to a church give ’em that cross.”
He had taken his brother to that church,
left an unexpected home in a lurch.
~ ~ ~
“Play for him,” Ran tapped the drum, “It’ll make you
better. I know.” Ran nodded, eyes imploring.
Disturb such rev’rent silence? Sarn wasn’t sure.
But his son didn’t ask for much and having
little to give the child, gave each present
more weight, and he’d played for the rusted King,
not for bread or bed, to repay a gent
for kindness. So he tapped that drum, like King
taught him, let his magic rise and fiddle
with the organ striking chords with mem’ry.
Somewhere in the light and music’s middle
he fell into a healing reverie.
He did feel better, and when he stopped, peace
fell and sleep beckoned, offering release.
~ ~ ~
The story continues in The Nutcracker.
~ ~ ~
For assignment #3 of Poetry 101 and also as part of my ongoing Advent series featuring the cast of the Curse Breaker Saga. This offering is #7 in the series. You can find the rest in order on my Holiday page. You can also find non-holiday themed vignettes on my Tales of Shayari page.
Thank you for reading.