Rhysling nominations: The King of Eyes

April 7, 2021

Here’s the second poem that I wrote which has been nominated for the Rhysling Awards, run by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association based in the US. This one was nominated in the Long category, and is from my book Monstrous.

Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

The King of Eyes

His crown has fifty-two spikes,
and each boasts an eye
gouged from conquered realms,
or scooped like a four-minute egg
from every defeated pretender.
The eyes look out at courtiers,
at advisers, open and shameless
as any necessary lie.
Crowns parade around heads,
each decoration a soldier,
so there is always an eye,
or a platoon of eyes
upon you, heavy as an official chain.

We lucky, or unlucky, few
often in His Majesty’s presence
have noted that he arranges
the eyes to a distinct pattern,
blue following modest brown,
and every tenth eye is green.
Opalescent eyes, beflecked,
break the pattern near each ear,
as if to drop colourful rumour
direct into the regal brain.
Some say that it is possible
for each crown-eye to wink,
and that such a wink is deadly
as any guillotine, for the flicker
is only bestowed on those
whose own eyes will soon adorn
the King’s most puissant head.
I can not say if this is true,
as I have yet to see an eye
that still sports a gown of lash.
We walk quietly around
the regal panopticon,
just in case the eyes still see,
and the King might catch the
slightest flicker of disloyalty.

Yesterday I noticed an eye
of a near emerald green
that clearly broke the pattern —
and I recognised the glance
of the King’s courtesan,
who was strangely absent
from her stool near the window,
where she often sat, weaving.
I have clutched her in love,
these six months past,
and could not strangle a shudder
to see such beauty displaced.
If the eyes see, they saw me blanch,
at the elevation of her eye
from our shared soft pillow
to mere metallic display.

I am called to a meeting at eight.
My eye, such an average brown,
may yet be raised to the crown.

PS Cottier

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