Umbrella’s lighter offshoot

Paul-John Ramos

of Yonkers, New York has appeared in Steam Ticket and the Westchester Review.

He was a 2008 finalist of the Black Lawrence Press Poetry Chapbook Competition.

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I, Dog of Hamlet


He keeps blabbering on about a stroll in the fog
When he met up with that father of his, once thought
A decent leader but never prepared for wars.
I saw more than I cared to that fateful night,
Resting in the turrets and having my sleep broken
By the wails of ambush.

In about no time, there came the wedding party.
I would bark at that lady conspirator, she warrants
A calling-out, but all tyrants lower a black glove
To their accusers’ eyes. None are safeneither dog
Nor manfrom the axe-edge.


The new couple bounces to the dinner music;
Their flunkies, respectable men who terrorize on command,
Thicken the circle of revelry with their buxom wives
As the last patriarch only now grows cold.

Her Majesty is decked in robes and freshly powdered
But her brow runs with sweat, from either
The dining hall fire or the flush of her craft.
She sits primly, beaming at her new dearest
From behind a goblet’s rim. She plays at laughter
From oft-told jokes, but her silver earrings
Jostle at words not quite in range.


One thing I’ve noticed about that upstart of hers:
He plays fetch only to give me a hard time.
I no longer play his game of chasing futile things
Across the courtyard with a kick in my behind.

Beware of all upstarts, beware of the thirst for leadership,
Beware of the sadists not yet donning the mask.
Beware of the promise-makers; beware of the rescuers
And redeemers; beware of the salesmen.

This man fills the throne; Norway is his problem,
He has all he desires. What troubles him?
Does power have no ceiling? Does power serve no purpose
But to thrash about and fear its loss?


March proudly, Norwegian soldier:
You and my cousin elkhound shall inherit the ruins
That once comprised Denmark. You need not meddle now;
Build your reserves to overflow and wait in the bowers.
Lie low and growl, whet your fangs. You need not meddle now;
Behind these walls, there are murmurs in the ranks:
Their queen dangles stone-drunk from balustrades,
And the young descendant, already rage-soused,
Empties barrels with his lover’s help.
And who, now, is minding the store of kingdom?
’Tis not a dog’s job, I hoist no skull.


This plaything of his, whom I judge a greater “dog” than I,
Is bound for his undoing. I can prattle on about
Honeysuckle and loins, but the prince’s chamber is rather stormy
These days. Many question if her lady’s fig remains unsliced,
But I wag my tail, withhold my knowledge . . .

. . . Well . . . I did not actually see the act, my overlord threw me out.
But his shirt tails were already hanging and she was pink in places.
Perhaps if I didn’t haggle my usual spot on the mattress
And observed the under-canopy dealings from afar,
The entire truth of kingdom would’ve escaped in a mutter.


At supper, the hounds of graft are first to be fed.
They’re first in line for their shovelfuls of chowder,
Toting cracked bowls and grease-dulled spoons.
Under the table, I’m napping within a leg colonnade
Upon which rest faceless and inept minds.
I wait for my share and worry not too much;
I’ve already shed enough hairs over this business.