"The Rooster King"

"The Rooster King"

"The Rooster King"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Aug. 3 2010 7:02 AM

"The Rooster King"

East of the Western Fence 

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear  Jay Hopler read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.
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And lo, the Rooster King, how he slums like the Lord!
And lo, the Rooster King, how he chases from these vacant lots the lesser, more
……………......domestic, cocks!
And lo, the Rooster King, how he spreads, as gasoline,
His wings, O, stained-glass butterfly!

………………………………….............Even half-blind, his right eye burned
Out with a cigarette, is he not the rocket and the rocket
Launcher?  Does he not walk, as Caesar, robed
In lightning, his tail feathers,

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Phosphorescent, flinging out
Like tracer fire?  He is Fat Sam, Lord of the Gorgeous, the Ayatollah of Osceola,
The Phoenix of the Vinegar Works!  He throbs
Like a cut throat and doesn't

………………………………….............Bleed.  And when he bleeds,
He bleeds whiskey—Fighting Cock: 103-proof Kentucky Straight
Bourbon—the light of the world.
The light of the world:

Ruined.  Magnificent; ferocious, gorgeous—
So what?  You think he's afraid of fire?  He wasn't born; he was forged. 
He's the napalm love letter, the sweetheart
Carpet bomb, the 1967 Pontiac

With a straight-6, single-barrel
Boot in the face.  No ram unto
The shackle, this bantam assassin, his death-red hackles flaring like a funeral pyre. 
He's the Sacred Heart of Jesus                                  

Wound 'round with barbed wire, the crucified
Christ tattooed on the back of a contract killer. 

Lo and
Behold—

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Jay Hopler is author of Green Squall. He received the 2010-11 Rome Fellowship in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy in Rome. He teaches at the University of South Florida.