SHADAKAR, by Barry King:

Shadakar!  Shadakar!  Can you hear me?
Your head, so heavy, so loose upon your neck.
Shadakar!  Wake up!

Ah, but the liquor has taken you away, Oh, Shadakar,
Shadakar the mighty, whose weight of gold,
whose thrice-heavy sword, whose swarm of spies,
whose stolen life of luxury warms my bed.

Time it is for quiet words, now.  Shadakar, listen.
Listen as you will not, your head upon my breast,
your mind ploughing the fields of your largesse,
lost in the mirror of your greatness.


Shadakar, listen.  Four and thirty years
you have swelled upon your foe.  Liars, thieves,
beggars and worse, you have despoiled, made bare.

But also fine men who met the sword as duty,
poetry upon their lips and grace in their bearing,
heart partners torn in your brief pleasure.
As was I.  Forever and anon.  Snuffed out.

Hear me, Shadakar.  A child I was when you took me,
took me away.  A feather-light spoil among your hoard,
a slim-limbed girl among dozens, somehow favoured.
I grasped that favour, in fear, in the knowing of you.
Lost myself in your glory, my mind emptied by your gaze.

And yet, I remember.  I have been to that land, now,
that paltry space that birthed you.
No different you were, not noble, not grand.
But now you give yourself airs, as if a lion among beasts.
You exult yourself, and yet it gnaws at you,
how others, older, wiser, see fearful shadows in your face.

You are defeated, Shadakar, by the failing in your heart,
by your father’s disapproving brow,
by the scorn of the woman you love.
You care for naught but the treasures of others,
and so . . . will never exceed them.
How much blood has been spilt
in the name of your mediocre greatness?

So here I have this dirk, sharp as a vengeance-tooth.
Oof.  You are heavy.  What if I lighten you by a breath?
How if I end this travesty, this fool’s quest?
How if I underscore the ebb and flow of your life
with a fine red line of perfect equality?

Equals then.  But I will never equal you, Shadakar.
I will not do this thing for your mercy nor mine.

Barry King lived in several countries around the world until settling in his spouse’s home town of
Kingston, Ontario and converting to Canadianism. They live there with a small blind dog and an
increasingly complex battle with the second law of thermodynamics. His poetry has also
appeared in ChiZine and Ideomancer.  You can learn more about Barry at his blog:


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