The field soldiers remember the triumph,
a lithe boy’s naal on the head of giant,
before the king rode through the ranks
to inquire about his parentage or the prince
had him bathed, his hair scented with sweet herbs.
After the crowds dwindled, because neither
one’s cunning nor the adulation of the victorious
are nourishment, and the battle, having made him
hungry, alone and in silence, the boy
slowly ate the brain of the giant.
A stripling, to tell the truth, the boy grew—
mad with the taste—savored the giant brain
and learned its ways, became a giant,
begat giants, who craved and ate all
the people in the land, except their own.
About This Poem
“‘The Stripling’ is the marriage of a thematic obsession with beautiful boys (in this case, the youthful, ruddy and handsome David) and history’s tendency to perpetually recast the underdog and the favorite in its oldest stories.”
Dante Micheaux is the author of Amorous Shepherd (Sheep Meadow Press, 2010). He is completing a study on literary influence and sexuality. He lives in London.