Today's poem is by Joseph Campana


Inside every prince there is
a tower just as inside every

tower a prince stares out at
wide waters, white-capped

mountains, generous forests.
Everyone else (he believes)

suffers the weather he does,
the same clouds stretching

over ocean, mountain, tree.
He can see all of them from

a tower you might think is
an ordinary room. The river

flowing below is not a street.
It does not keep him awake

with a terrible grinding of
gears, those streaks of light

swallowed by corners of
darkness. It's true he can

see those who pass below
and at time he wonders

what it would be like to be
among them. Every skull

is a toy prison and inside
each is a kingdom ruled by

a sad young man in a tower
(I meant to say prince) who

refuses to sleep, for he fears
the world will end when his

eyes close. That it does not
does not comfort him. What

comfort can a prince draw
from the world outside his

tower when it really is the
inside he looks out at. Every

mirror is a window and each
window is a shiny mirror. He

can't look away. Forget the
heart. It is too empty. Forget

the mind. It is an endless hall
of reflection. Ask not if there's

really an ocean. The prince
thinks it is so. Ask not if the

trees really groan with his
weighty thoughts; the prince

too sinks under their weight as
the sun sinks behind mountains

(actually hills) because finally,
finally the prince is ready to sleep.

And so is the rest of the world.

Copyright © 2016 Joseph Campana All rights reserved
from New Orleans Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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