a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
The Mark of Gideon
Your Dear Majesty,
Highness, You are the state, divinely
selected. How heavily these issues weigh
on the conscience of the King.
Your assertion that we plunder –
we have benefitted from empires’ exhausted
example. Surely, are we not the sober heads
invited as arbiters of absurd wars?
For every frustration have we not
banked a good turn? Are we not still the torch
dispelling pogroms’ specter? Beacon of dissidents’
flight? Has not our fertility benefitted all?
True, I too contemplate the decline
of the honeybee, but we alone did not engineer
those wild seeds, unknown and poisonous.
Your…caution, yes, these new behemoths –
their sabers’ rattle in my daughters uneasy dreams.
If those colossi policed their own
my soldiers might return to love, to heal
their hearts warped by a world of violence
that predates their youth, deeds only the vicious
imagine. Let them reclaim lives abandoned.
I beg Your Majesty’s pardon –
your recounting our past is not arrogance.
Remembering our felonies is more important
at least, than enumerating good turns.
My duty is to keep history unvarnished,
memory is a stream flowing uphill
when the balance of kindness comes due.
From my windows, I see the lovers holding
each a different shade of hand, each one a citizen.
And, Highness, I am certain your grand boulevards
are not so colorless as that day I had the honor
of your company on a walk outside the palace.
Again, we beg pardon. Our follies are not so
ancient. Ours is the wisdom of clay unfired –
a vessel yet unglazed.
But, Sovereign, what can we share?
I am just a Pasha, servant first,
father next, husband last, but such is the lot
of a family elected, without the certainty
that God guides our hand. Our dilemmas
are to be solved by ourselves, ourselves alone.
And Undying Esteem,
Gideon, Grand Pasha
Kevin Vaughn is currently a doctoral student in English & Creative Writing at The University of Georgia. He also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Kevin is a former Fulbright Fellow to Jagiellonian University in Poland and a graduate fellow of the Cave Canem Foundation. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Harpur Palate, Mississippi Review, Mythium, Naugutuck River Review, PANK and the anthologies: “Killer Lines: Poems about Murder & Mayhem” and “The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume V: Georgia.” He has the recipient of artistic residencies all over the world, including The Millay Colony for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center and Performing Arts Forum in Picardie, France.