All flesh is grass! said Nebuchadnezzar,
Sucking the bits from between his teeth:
And all birds are of a feather,
And I was everybody’s emperor once.
Now I browse my way round the walls of that death
Where they watch, too scared of what I was to laugh
At what I am: my own dunce
And donkey, grazing the very stuff
Of truth, letting it pass
Back to its roots, like the other beasts.
But I'm Nebuchadnezzar nevertheless,
Myself for all time, king of outcasts.
And they fear me worse on all fours
With my facts, standing asleep in the dark
Like a horse,
With the sky dropping its spits all over my back.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 5 Number 10, on page 40
Copyright © 2020 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com