Another night watch

when streetlights slice pale parallelograms
through the three-thirty mist.
The streets belong
to foxes and folk between shifts:
a world emptied
dead to itself.

I am
one small speck of wakeful life
in the starless, windless void.

The peril of the moment
holds me wide-eyed and wired
my heart and breath two bolting horses
straining for the front.

Long knives gleam.
Hot blood runs.
Old enmities flare.
The kingdom shudders to its roots.

The fool who clasps the empty crown
in sweaty, greedy hands
has murdered sleep
more surely and more finally
than the tyrant ever did.