​GRACE BAUER

Grace Bauer is the author of Retreats & Recognitions, Beholding Eye, and The Women At The Well, as well as several chapbooks of poems, and co-editor of the anthology, Umpteen Ways of Looking At A Possum: Critical & Creative Responses to Everette Maddox. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

THE KINGDOM IF I CAN



This is a story      mine     not mine


note     the use of     possessive


the word     story     the implication


what tale     entails





Who was it said:


“The king died     and then the queen died     is a statement;


the king died     and then the queen died     of grief     is a plot?”



Cause and     effect or


maybe      cause     and more     cause


just     because



Once upon     and then     and then


and so     they lived     and so


plotting


the complications     the twists


the so-called     arc      of this drama



And how can one be     upon     time





this story     not mine     and mine


I am not     the heroine     of this story


(note     the silent e     it makes all the difference)



I am     neither     pro or an/tagonist



not quite witness     not quite victim


still     somewhat     more than


>     minor     >     character


in this     major league     disaster


that is happening     that is     waiting     to happen



Is that what it means     to be upon


(as in     up on     as in     the latest news –


those      breaking     stories)



And how     did the king die?

Was he fighting     a major battle?     a losing cause?                                                                                                    

 

The world     of this story     turns on


a kind of denial     a silence


I am     breaking     into?     out of?         
                                                              
Breaking in’s a crime


Breaking out? – it may be


Breaking through?


That’s always     seen as     triumph



 

Everyone was     turning on


No one     was telling


when things took     a bad turn


more than the     was silent



me     not me


mine     not mine


could be     my breakthrough


moment     role



But I am not a queen


good grief     no monarch



I am not     doing     time


I am     not     serving     this sentence


the story     ongoing     and     unraveling


anticipation     and     aftermath


adding up     two     plus, too



Who     or what     does the telling    serve


and what’s so new     about breaking


You can     mine     any story


for details     and     deletions



the queen’s grief     the absence


on which the tale turns –


did it make     a ruler     of her


and what     did she measure


who were her     subjects



Too many     complications


to keep track     of him     hiding his tracks


keeping up     with his own     personal joneses


the fixed focus     of need


a constant fix     that can’t be

 

 

the time     he serves     the sentences  

                                            
he says     I say     we all     have our say



the queen’s grief     a decree     of mourning



the duty of     subjects


each the subject of     their own


unraveling     stories



one’s need     to end all     but one need


another’s     need     to tell


what is     the objective     of the telling


beyond     the act of it     the upon     of time


assuaging of grief     revelation     of all



the fix     that cannot be     the craving


so elemental     one wants


to call it     pure


as in pure gold     as in


unadulterated     solid



but who knows     the cost


of telling     not telling


the truth     upon which


we stand     take     a stand?



What if     the queen’s grief


was mere sham     what if


she was all     good riddance


disguised     as sorrow     my own


questions     less about     regret


than guilt     which     is always



its own     kingdom


a craving     to tell

                                                             ​​

                                                                                           

                                                                ​

 

 

REALITY CHECK



Try to remember a time


when you did not believe


in something more


or less miraculous:


the azure of dusk, the moons


on the nails on your hands,


the dirt beneath your feet


in which occasionally


sprouted a flower.



On the corner a man


in a brown suit and fedora


looks like he’s waiting


for someone. You consult


the calendar in your purse


to be sure it isn’t you.



 

 

 

 

Try to remember if it’s time


to go. Or time to arrive?


If the man is your guardian angel.


Or your nemesis? Your muse?



There are many things to believe


in this world. This is not one of them.

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