Nebuchadnezzar II Unchained

by Richard Manly Heiman

You gathered lions around you, on your head and in your gilt clay heart. Like a grubby child collecting iridescent scarab shells in Jericho. Lions bent on raking tonsured scalps. Lions with eyes licked yellow. Wary lions, honed by sudden sprints across the shimmering desert leanness. Starved lions, poised for spinal interdiction.

Later you raged and staggered, ragged, grazing like a Boskoi. You stealth-crawled in the dust, gobbling jerboas and sun-drunk baby cobras. Then, dim memory made you stare with idiot eyes at walls festooned with sirrush dragons, proud-horned aurochs and lacquered golden lions. Your own lions, gnawing at your heart.

RICHARD MANLY HEIMAN lives on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. He works as a substitute teacher, and writes when the kids are at recess. His work has been published by Rattle, Christian Century, Rust + Moth, Spirit Fire Review, and more. Richard holds an MFA from Lindenwood University. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and his URL is

Photo: “Lion from Isthar Gate: Istanbul Archaeology Museum” by J Brew