Written by Jamie Tabatowski-Bush
“And the new Lizard King embraced the fire/Solid, stable, and ready to inspire.”
Before the monarch lived there was just clay,
Untouched by mortal hand, nor daylight.
Just mounds of mud we tread beneath our feet,
Wretched to touch and smell that’s just as foul.
But artist’s hands brought glory to this dirt,
Intended to create and not subvert.
In the mind of the artist it breathed,
A reptilian face with scales shimmering round.
A lizard king within its own respects,
Carved out of clay but holding regal poise.
And soon it would take in a breath of life,
with help of chisel, slip and sharpened knife.
Its skeleton was drawn from wooden posts,
Wrapped tight with flesh of dampened linen,
A thin layer of clammy skin drawn taut
Across tight sinews and still clenched muscles,
The clay spread far and formed a solid-host,
And now a face there lived–not a ghost.
This face it came from humble beginnings,
Just a lump, without form and great finesse.
Willing hands cut and formed the lizard’s face,
Neck smoothed by fingers wanting to perfect,
Jawline clenched in a firm and heartfelt smile,
Firm browline jutting out all of the while.
In sockets bloomed sight-orbs, oblong in shape;
The skull was large, a line of horns hooked down.
Like trees they grew, sharp with solid bases
Hollow in physicality, yet strong
Made to rule all, receiver of no scorn,
Ruler of lizards, a crown made of horn.
Royal human cells are filled with water,
But this king, it held only the crisp air.
A needle punched holes through the cold, wet skin,
So that the insides could breath and dry out.
The lizard grimaced, but only slightly
For the tasks to come, came not as lightly.
A harsh upbringing, this scaled-man did have,
Albeit it was finished within two months.
Pounded into shape and doused with water,
But this is what made him survive longer.
He was cut and re-cut, oh, how he trained,
Chiseled and carved, oh, how his face was pained.
But then the day came, he was to be fired.
Put to the test against flames of the kiln,
A final battle between fire and clay.
A coming-of-age for the lizard-king.
If he were to win, his skin would harden,
But if he lost, there would be no pardon.
And so the lizard entered the fire-cave,
Mouth-knives bared and claws glistening brightly.
Ready to fight, bearing no sword or shield,
And as the door closed to the outside world,
It took one last breath, rather than forgo.
One last look at light, as he fell below.
As the entrance closed, it felt little fear,
But he didn’t know he was not prepared.
The cave’s air crackled, stones burst into flame,
Oxygen vanished, only fire remained.
Swirling infernos, cackling with laughter,
The lizard, he roared, raising the rafters.
The warrior rushed forward in battle,
The monsters of combustion did likewise.
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
But the conflagration devoured him,
Wrapping him in heat, boiling blood red,
And with a scream, the King exploded, dead.
And when the kiln was opened the next day,
The artist cried out in primal dismay.
Clutching the pieces of the fallen bust,
But through clenched teeth, they put the shards aside.
For although the lizard they made was gone,
In its memory, they did move along.
And so, again, and in only two weeks,
Another Monarch was brought from the dirt.
Stronger, quieter, more secure and sound,
With failure came knowledge, ready to build.
And the new Lizard King embraced the fire,
Solid, stable and ready to inspire.