“While the King Slept” by Michael Patrick McSweeney

On my way to search a lost kingdom's home,
ramblers in a torch-buttered tavern
say that while the king slept,
the archers on the walls forgot about whetstones,

drinking wine from bright green bottles
instead of hiding it in their water-canteens.
They say it all began after the field marshall died,
the one who would shake every soldier's hand,
slip them wads of tobacco wrapped in bawdy poems,
and tell them that blizzards always melt against hard sun.
They say the bow strings snapped against the soldiers' hands,
and they turned their heads away
to find his aide-de-camp stumbling through his speeches
and laughing when a man guarding the gates
looked troubled, tired, and drunk.

When I arrive, the castle is silent.
The skeletons of red and blue flags
occupy the breeze-flattened courtyard,
their poles bent like broken arms.
An old man tends a fire born from useless hilts.
When pressed for details
he squirts black blood down to the earth
and explains that the crown spun before it fell,
like paper convinced by the words of wind or a sewer drain,
atop the cold-snap stone of the throne room.
He points to the ruined battlements,
where rows of senseless arrows
flung themselves towards the clouds
only to strike the lifeless soil,
their single cries inaudible among so many.

Michael Patrick McSweeney is an artist and educator from the Boston region. His work has appeared in numerous journals and various regions of the Internet thanks to truly wonderful individuals. He is also the founder and chief financial officer of a used submarine conglomerate, the business website of which can be found at discountsubmarines.wordpress.com, and he hopes you have a great day.