The King Is Dead, Long Live the King
Heaven is the certainty that you will be avenged I know I know the kingdom is not fair but it’s what I have a montage of red and a mitosis of knuckles I’m not sure how you could expect me to love anything Ain’t no question sadness is regal like that golden and replaceable once I wanted a lineage of identical men once a mouth soft and hot as the quickest way that gold can hurt you You see a pattern yet? I practice the want of nothing and fail I’ve been shown how ugly I can be when I am invisible I don’t believe in yesterdays The throat of loneliness? Straddled with my knife I press my hands to my face and the lament is a valley the light sags through What do you do when you have lost Everything? Rewrite the history of Everything I don’t like my smile because someone told me I didn’t like it Now I am gorgeous in all the languages I mothered Flex the antonym of Missing I avenge myself Stretch my hands I orphan my grief for the living and it is beauty ain’t no question I monarch the lonely I my own everything now I miss my love and it is an American grief I strike the smell from nostalgia cut my memory to spite my country What is the odor of nothing but my dominion in want of excess I grin and pillars of bone flower into sawed-off crowns say I flex the light and the light flexes heat shimmer unfurling like a bicep my lust a mirage where the body is merely a congealing of the river I can feel it slowly drifting away from me The world I knew is gone and getting more gone and my anthem populating my nose with an abundance of salt I slip the shroud over the life I named and forget I belonged to someone once My soverign's face is a riot of diamonds whining This will be a beautiful death and I am free and gorgeous and desperate to never have to miss anyone again I rock the jeweled shroud become the bride of my own sad light
Copyright © 2018 by Julian Randall. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 3, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“Kanye West was one of the people who first made me want to be a writer, and while I oppose nearly everything he is saying and doing these days, a first mirror is not abandoned so easily or completely. This began as an attempt to create a poem that flows at a rhythmic level in much the same way that the song ‘Gorgeous’ from his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy does. To reckon with Kanye’s influence on me is to interrogate what I grieve and why I grieve it. While Dark Fantasy isn’t my favorite Kanye album, I have always at some level adored the way Kanye binds elegy to excess; I find it beautiful in a way that has always inspired me to stand up straighter. The poem’s title sprung to my mind while I was looking at an alternate cover for Dark Fantasy, which depicted a decapitated Kanye wearing a crown with a sword piercing him from the side. It seemed to beg the question, if the sovereign is beheaded who inherits his grief?”
Julian Randall is the author of Refuse (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), which won the 2017 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.
Date Published: 2018-09-03
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/king-dead-long-live-king