Glenn Shaheen

The man who will be immortalized in legend as King Arthur is born in Kent, though in reality he will be a cowardly recluse. He will spend his life alone. No Guinevere, not lust for any woman or man. He won’t even be able to look those who speak to him in the eye. He will order the executions of those who try to touch him out of attraction or brotherhood. One woman for whispering in his ear, for disgusting him with his own arousal, her soft wind across his ear’s opening. In his small, insignificant kingdom, nobody will understand the value of being free, but everybody will understand the value of being fed. They will prosper, though he will be a tyrant. Druidic monks in his castle will be paid to spread legend about him. Mostly, they will do it because they think it is hilarious to make a weak, tyrannical king out to be a hero. But none of this has happened yet. Arthur, just born, is brought from the nursery to the main castle hall. They must cross a brief walkway outside. The delicate Arthur is small in the nurse’s arms, and the night is cold. They must break icicles from the door in the fear that one could fall and impale the young prince. He shrinks in his swaddling clothes from the noise of the breaking ice until he almost disappears.

Glenn Shaheen is the author of the poetry collections Predatory (U of Pitt Press, 2011), and Energy Corridor (U of Pitt Press, 2016), and the flash fiction chapbook Unchecked Savagery (Ricochet Editions, 2013). Individual pieces have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Ploughshares, The New Republic, and elsewhere.