Daily Archives: January 29, 2018

Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Tyrant (after Wallace Stevens)


The tyrant is not himself magical.
The tyrant is nothing himself but
the result of a spell.


There are some who say
his name is magical. They say
he cannot remain a tyrant
if we do not
say his name.


There are some
who call him
by his grandfather’s name.

agree with the tyrant
that some names
are less powerful
for their foreign origin.


The tyrant is
utterly himself. The tyrant
is always present, in the moment,
a bruise or fresh gash.


Dare we admit that
something in us is thrilled
that the tyrant has unmasked
the perpetual tyranny
that preceded him here?


The tyrant’s mood
is easy in the morning,
easy in the evening. The tyrant’s mood
is always easier to read
than predict. 


The tyrant walks among men
as if he were thin and everything
about him were golden. He 
walks among women as if
he needs, when among them,
to stretch an arm, to reach out.


The long game, the short game.
The endless hours riding around
outdoors. The sun on his scalp,
yet the tyrant will not believe
in the sun.


While wringing their hands
over the tyrant’s deeds and words

some fall into a shadow
and never come out again.


A tyrant, any tyrant,
must breathe the same air
as everyone else, but

more of it. This tyrant
draws like a furnace, 
chimney gone wild with flame.


There are not yet enough songs
to suck air from under the tyrant’s wings.


The tyrant sits up late, 
speaks to the dark, never dreams
without acting out the dream.


What a tyrant does, says,
what a tyrant is, is nothing new.
What’s new: this tyrant 

on a branch above the schoolyard,
staring at our children.  This tyrant
in the doorway of the bedroom, drooling
over us.  This tyrant bedecked

in a throng of blackbirds
adoring him, waiting for us
to take our hands

from our eyes.