When I was younger I

Was the Emperor God of nations
More brutal than Nero ever dreamed.

Innocent malevolence in a thousand
Sunday afternoon steps, in campaigns
Against ants, crickets, brothers,
Baby dolls.

Not a dream of Rockwell, I;
Nor any boy, so idyllic, so
Sunwashed free.

Darkness in every nine year old heart,
To be expurgated nightly as Dad
Listened to my good-lipped prayer
From the hall.

But he never knew my heart.

Now that I’m older,

Thirty years (and change) gathered ’round my
Belly like silver coins,
Baby fat to middle-aged spread,
I see my usurpers, blonde beyond reason.
No Nero am I.

But meat for princes and queens.

I, terrorist, Emperor, boy,
Yield, and let them devour me with small hands,
Bright eyes, loose teeth, skinned knees.

There is a glory, unknown to children,
In raising usurpers to steal your throne.
To scold them for the cricket’s murder;
To realize, in the end, that hypocrisy
Is salvation.

My dark, savage days are done.
Come the bright feast of me.

And all that I learned, devour it,
Scamps, deceivers, betrayers,
Who never stay as you were made,
And grow only to more usurpers.

Sweet meat.