POEM LXXIV: “RASPUTIN”

Nature abhors a vacuum
and there’s no vacuum quite like the mind
of an aristocrat.

All sorts of flotsam and jetsam
swirl around royalty,
like trash around a storm drain.

Astologers, faith healers, experts in palmistry.
People who claim to pull the toxins out of your body through your feet.
Advisors and feng shui consultants and svengalis of all sorts.

The ugliest creatures in a dictator’s menagerie are frequently those at the periphery,
as any amateur student of the Third Reich can tell you—
but pay attention, kids, because history isn’t done with us

You think Tsarina Alexandra was a fool to listen
to a wild-eyed faith healer—
but Prince Charles thinks that water has memory,
and can retain the “healing powers”
of a tincture at 14 parts per billion.

Only inefficacy and an overwhelming interest in gardens and polo—
rather than, say, genocide and torture—
keeps Charles harmless, a doddering family embarrassment at best.

But watch who hangs out around him.
Every unelected ruler longs to believe in magic,
for magic is the only thing keeping him afloat.

Of course, the stars determine one’s position.
Certainly, crystals can heal.
There can be no doubt that the prayer is working.
Pay no mind to the mob at your door.

Close your eyes.
Listen only to me.
The world outside is getting very quiet.
On the count of three—

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