96
 

Having sent the lethal contract to avenge his ward’s betrayal, her own computer used to issue the fierce reprisal (power henceforth cut, generators demolished, battery packs confiscated), Sheik Hadithah haunts the abandoned Palace like a dispossessed phantom. His authority, overthrown by forces loyal to the Prince, resounds through empty rooms and unattended corridors, echoing ineffectually, un-abetted by support-staff disbanded and gone with his enemies. Left alone in the Himalayan outpost’s utter isolation, winter’s early onset a harbinger of despair, the Royal Family’s Head accepts his downfall stoically.

It is time.

Snow, behaving much like hail, its tiny flakes hard pellets that accumulate on the pathways, plazas, and porticos

The body signals poignantly
what consciousness would deny;

is swept into hoary shadows by a pitiless wind,

We are mortal.

numbing to the senses, chilling to the marrow, insidious to the welfare of every warm-blooded creature

Notwithstanding notions to the contrary,

be it antelope goat or bharal, be it yak or hispid hare;

bodies old like mine
are obliged to decompose.

the Palace loses heat as a corpse gives up its ghost.

Life brooks no remedy.

While the Sheik, in search of shelter, braves the out-of-doors again, trails his white burnoose from Nana’s to the Prince’s private quarters,

Life,
in point of fact,
abjures all cures save one.

shuffling toward his nephew’s hidebound den.

Knowing this,
resisting faith and fakirs,
myths and old wives’ tales,
is the single greatest source of Mankind’s power;

Once there, fumbling with a match to ignite pine-needle kindling, laying on some logs in the gaping hearth,

which few exert.

he settles into the throne-like chair in which Nana curled of late   

Pursuing whims,
the madding crowd diverts, distracts, deludes
its raw intelligence

and gazes at the flames as might some Seer... 

thereby abdicating
that which is Our right

under the corresponding scrutiny of his two-dimensional brother,

the few of Us who see,

whose portrait, dimly lit by the crackling fire below, flickers with unsettling if irregular definition... 

the Brotherhood Eye
not blinded by belief in Souls Everlasting.

watching, it would seem, for a symptom of remorse...

Death, as punctuation,
is not a colon; it is a period.

detecting, it would appear, no such sentiment...

Every sentence lived
is a sentence framed to die
—exceptions none—
conclusions come to,

ruing less his brother’s, perhaps, than his son’s venial crimes, the Prince corrupted by his uncle, banished to licentiousness in a decadent far-flung setting,

 if unburdened
by ridiculous expectations,

unrestrained by scruples, morally out of touch, discipline non-compulsory,

will not mystify,
justify,
or terrify.

allowed to let libido conspire with a grisly urge

Each man’s end,
met Eye to Eye,
is simply each man's ceasing,

inherited, truth to tell, from his epicurean father, 

sight with insight vanished,

whose obsession was his love for all things bound by skin,

  in an existential blink.

a collector, unlike the Sheik—who slumps in the leather seat, and undisturbed by his silent sibling, dies.

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