March 8, 2020

“Jacob the Lion Hearted,” Poetry by Thomas Piekarski

“Jacob the Lion Hearted,” Poetry by Thomas Piekarski
Jacob the Lion Hearted 

He started out trying to climb too high a ladder, 
fell off, smacked his head, knocked unconscious. 
But he wouldn’t give up just because the ladder 
was an obstacle. He wouldn’t give in although 
he had no grip on any world outside his head. 
Jacob took advantage of this transcendent state  
to luxuriate in the expanse of his imagination. 
He ventured like Alice through fabulous realms 
clinging to his unique ideals. No one else would 
ever understand what thoughts were propagated. 
Nor would he, for memory had fled in a flash. 
His mind a dream machine, body in suspension, 
Jacob manufactured fantasies, myths, religions, 
gave them life, far beyond anything he’d known 
during this his tenuous tenure on the road of life. 


Andronicus Returns to Earth 
A smooth landing, the toes of his module 
dug in tight. He got out and smelled guts 
of brothers slaughtered in close combat, 
bodies slathered across a searing terrain. 
Immersed in atmospheric chaos, he briskly 
rubbed his eyes to extract insidious smoke. 
Twisted steel, bricks strewn everywhere, 
banshees, bats and ever-whipping winds. 
Undeterred he sallied forth, exploring in his 
fireproof jumpsuit. Surely the entire planet 
couldn’t be so depleted. Life must still exist 
somewhere. He was duty bound to locate it. 
An arduous trek it was indeed to the peak 
of Vesuvius, then back down the other side. 
He found Naples in complete ruin, home to  
but rats and mongrels. Then on to Pompeii. 
Pompeii ushered a precipitous rejuvenation. 
For there, wandering amid the cement casts 
of mortal souls untimely enmeshed in fiery 
molten ash did he exalt, and pay homage. 


He’d always taken freedom for granted as a man protected 
from the forces of political discord, never given a thought 
to the idea that his compassion and love would yield doom. 
Yet they confiscated his possessions, beat him brutally. 
He resisted, but no use. He was condemned, incarcerated, 
and struggled in his straight jacket. Within a padded cell 
he bounced against the walls, would wail, but his mouth 
was gagged except to eat. They fed him through the slot 
in an iron door, told that because he was foreign he had 
no right to be free, which necessitated this imprisonment. 
As one might expect, in due course he went totally insane. 
On schedule, every ten years officials would stop by from 
the federal office of subversion abatement to assess him, 
would make him strip, examine his genitals, waterboard, 
subject him to intensive interrogation as to determine if 
he was fit for release. But of course he’d never be let go. 


Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry and interviews have appeared in publications internationally, including Florida English Journal, Poetry Salzburg, Mandala Journal, Poetry Quarterly, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, and Boston Poetry Magazine. He has published a travel guide, Best Choices In Northern California. His most recent poetry books are Ballad of Billy the Kid and Monterey Bay Adventures. This is his first feature in The Fictional Café.

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