KR OnlinePoetry

How I Came to Rule the World

First, no one loved me. Then

I learned to love myself

too much. The rest, as they say,
is the rest.
                    I ran and ran
for what seemed like months,
for what seemed like days

without nights, through stampedes
of the others just like me,

what I took to be the infernos

one is promised
                              and dreams of.
I prayed for God to take me
until He did. And before

I could realize that I was doing it
all wrong, I found myself

at the edge of an abandoned city.
This is it, I thought,
                                    and the wind
swelled, so I pulled off a boot,
and then some fog dissolved,

so I unbuttoned my shirt,

and when nothing more

could be removed, when I had nothing
more to leave behind, I stood up,
wearing nothing but a scarf, and walked
into the center of the city, a piazza
of black marble and white,
bare-limbed trees growing like wire
from the marble,
                                and there
emerged, in bronze curves,
oxidized, flaked in mint lichen, right there
within the muggy vicinity,
a statue of me.
                           And I wept beneath it
on my knees, relieved
at its being there, but mostly tired

from the punishment—and that was it.
How I came to rule the world? It was easy.

Justin Boening is the author of a chapbook Self-Portrait as Missing Person (Poetry Society of America, 2013) and a winner of the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Columbia: a Journal, Fruita Pulp, and Third Coast. He is an associate editor at Poetry Northwest and a Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University.