A Fourth King Is Unavoidably Detained

I would not deign to speak for that triumvirate of worthies

Whom I had hoped to accompany, but, for myself,

My journey was of a practical, political nature;

There was any number of shared concerns

Which I hoped to discuss with my fellow sovereigns:

Matters of borders and bandits, tariffs and treaties,

And even if my fellow sovereigns were sincere

In their interpretation of (I would attest, anyway)

This wholly random celestial event, they are still very much

Men of the world, and on such a lengthy and tedious sojourn

It would only be natural that the discussion would turn

To those duties which only the eminent and elevated can appreciate

And in due course perhaps become the basis

For some understanding and accommodation.


Giving them the benefit of doubt (for if a ruler

Is not entitled to that, who is), it is not surprising

That my erstwhile fellow travelers were taken

By the notion of infant kings and augury from the skies;

When you are insulated from the concerns of finding food and shelter,

My very own father told me in my youth,

You’ll find something foolish to worry yourself about.

Having subdued their swath of earth, it is only natural

That they would cast their worries toward the skies,

And who among us has not seen darkness at mid-day

Or huge and inexplicably reddened moons?

I could not blame my fellow potentates for attempting

To divine some meaning from such events,

Nor am I astonished that they would find some would-be seer

(And it seems the more vulgar, unkempt and ill-smelling the better)

Who would be all too grateful

To lighten both their anxieties and their royal purses.


Had I been able to accompany that group of potentates

For the entire trek, I would have noted

(Though gently, with the most innocuous of smiles)

That I believe the secret to ascertaining the absolutes of the universe,

The eternal verities, is accepting the very lack of their existence.

I have cultivated and consolidated my power

Via the noble arts of compromise and conciliation,

Knowing when and how to give just enough to gratify

(And, if need be, just enough rope For fools to hang themselves with)

While retaining resources sufficient enough

To slap down those who are insufficient in their gratitude.

Sadly, even these arts are not without their limitations;

Indeed, my journey was cut short when a proconsul

(One of my wife’s kinsmen, that being his only conceivable qualification

For such a position) so spectacularly bollixed

What should have been a perfectly simple matter of taxation and tithing

That it required my return to handle the matter in person.

No matter, then; those affairs I had hope to discuss

Will still remain when they have come home

From this particular dalliance with stargazing and saviors

(Ah, such fancies–all hail this sultan of the stables, this high priest of the hay!)

And there are day-to-day concerns aplenty to occupy my days

Until such time they come to the realization

That faith is the luxury of the poor.


7 thoughts on “A Fourth King Is Unavoidably Detained

  1. This is quite a triumph of narrative, wit and style. The notion of the fourth king is delightful and the conception and execution are superbly done. A very impressive piece.

  2. glad to have read this…top marks for what you have created here…you must have put a lot into this…was a good read and as the comment above refers..the notion of the fourth king is a delightful play….thanks for sharing..pete

  3. Oh brilliant work, Ken. It takes ‘Journey of the Magi’ to a whole new level. Your style of dramatic monologue is excellent and their is much wisdom in the wry wit.

    When you are insulated from the concerns of finding food and shelter,

    My very own father told me in my youth,

    You’ll find something foolish to worry yourself about.

    And: faith is the luxury of the poor, contains all the bitterness of disillusionment.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

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