I pity the unwary swimming below
twitching with abandon
unknowing of the ruler up above

on his oaken throne.

The pond is his kingdom,
the branch his keep,
from which he rules

the vermillion depths.

Draped in robes of myriad tones

he sits quietly, regally, alone.

Upon his breast lies a sunlit shirt
woven of the finest thread
as fine as the feathers upon his brow
deep indigo hues mirror his hunting ground
but he needs no hound to

catch his prey.

His royal sword has no sheath

but its crimson is sharp as any.

A solemn statue now,
his precise eye spots a Perch
and he glides
drawn into flight
a spring uncoiled

wings slicing water and air alike.

Primal, graceful,
a tyrant without knowledge of regicide,
he emerges in triumph,
shaking off freshwater blood,
the Perch limp—

caught between the jaws of the victor

Glorious in spoils
he returns to his sacred seat
satisfied with his skill:
I now know I have seen enough

to recognize true power.

-Max Palys

Max Palys is a writer who was born in Vilnius, Lithuania and currently attends St. Mark’s School of Texas. He is the Chair of his school’s Literary Festival and has attended both a writer’s workshop through Duke University and the Kenyon Young Writers’ Workshop.