The corpses laid before your cast iron throne
will never wake again. Their eyes alone
accuse you from the veinous marble floor,
but you dismiss their gaze and look once more

to conquest: paring down the enemy,
their slaughter sung by tongues of royalty,
the footsteps of your soldiers filling streets
and alleyways, dividing into fleets

the sons and fathers at your beck and call.
You fear no armies: you’ll command them all!
‘Til wives who weep and whisper for the dead
beseech the men to beg a ransom for your head.



Sterling Osborne lives in south Florida. He is a private tutor and has been published in the literary magazine Ancient Paths.

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6 Responses

  1. Margaret Coats

    The poem presents a well-wrought picture of a murderous tyrant. I’m intrigued by the cast iron throne; we usually imagine something more luxurious for such a person, but it does suit the man’s character. The last line is effectively lengthened; we understand that the wives hope to break out of an established pattern. But wouldn’t they ask men to put a price on the emperor’s head (motivating someone to kill him), rather than beg a ransom for it? A ransom buys back something that is lost or captured or stolen, but the emperor still has his head. Of whom would the men beg the ransom? How would the ransom achieve what the prophet wants, which is apparently to stop imperious murder?

    • Sterling

      Very good point about “ransom”. I’ll have to reconsider that word choice. I suppose “bounty” is what I had meant. What an embarrassing mistake!

      Thank you very much for your input!

      • Margaret

        You can make corrections and submit them to Then, your poem published online will be as you would like it to be. One of our most gifted SCP poets has done this more than once, so there is precedent.

      • Mike Bryant

        Or, Margaret, if Sterling would like a few simple changes made, he can request the changes here in a comment, and I will take care of it.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    There’s an error in the penultimate line. You can use the word /Until/, or the word /Till/, which are basically synonymous. But /’Til/ is not an acceptable contraction. It is awkward, as well as ugly on the page.

    • C.B. Anderson

      This point, Joseph, has been brought up many times in the comment threads here at SCP, but, alas, this illegitimate practice will probably continue ’til hell freezes over.


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