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.
much like hail, its tiny flakes hard pellets that accumulate on the pathways,
plazas, and porticos
The body signals
what consciousness would deny;
is swept into hoary shadows by a pitiless wind,
numbing to the
senses, chilling to the marrow, insidious to the welfare of every warm-blooded
notions to the contrary,
be it antelope goat or bharal, be it yak or hispid hare;
bodies old like
are obliged to decompose.
loses heat as a
corpse gives up its ghost.
Life brooks no
Sheik, in search of shelter, braves the out-of-doors
again, trails his white burnoose from Nana’s to the Prince’s private quarters,
abjures all cures save one.
shuffling toward his nephew’s hidebound den.
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
he settles into
the throne-like chair in which Nana curled of late
the madding crowd diverts, distracts, deludes
its raw intelligence
and gazes at the flames as
might some Seer...
that which is Our right—
corresponding scrutiny of his
the few of Us who see,
dimly lit by the crackling fire below, flickers with unsettling if irregular
not blinded by belief in Souls Everlasting.
would seem, for a symptom of
is not a colon; it is a period.
would appear, no such sentiment...
is a sentence framed to die
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,
by ridiculous expectations,
scruples, morally out of touch, discipline non-compulsory,
allowed to let libido conspire with a
Each man’s end,
met Eye to Eye,
is simply each man's ceasing,
truth to tell, from
his epicurean father,
was his love for all things
bound by skin,
a collector, unlike the
Sheik—who slumps in the leather seat, and undisturbed by his silent sibling, dies.