‘King Kong’ by Karl Culley

I bought a ticket like everyone else
and tried my luck to sneak back here,
to see him first. We’re alone

behind the curtain. He towers although slumping.
His manacles have chains like tankers anchor’s rodes.

In the pit outside the orchestra tunes up
like a drunk coming to, meeting light.

I dare to reach and touch the nail of his thumb –
a warm battle-bitten shield. No reaction,
but the slow oceanic heave of his chest,
I would’ve said a sigh, and the redwood creak
of the reinforced stage and as the drums roll
like waves collapsing on a distant shore,
I’ve had enough, I’ve had my fill,
and as I leave, push past people,
the boy spills ices in the aisle.
The place is packed – made up faces,
under immaculate hair, the ones at the back
with opera glasses, binoculars, as if needed.

The snow of New York, the night, the lights;
the pharmacy they put in him,
like a thunderhead sulking its progress,
is processed by swimming pool-sized kidneys
with blood like mine, slamming the heart.

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