His Majesty Under a Parking Lot

I think he wanted to be found, he was ready to be found, and we found him.

–Philippa Langley, on discovering the skeleton of Richard III


Skull off somewhere left of his neck,

it casts a glance

at the winding road of his vertebral cobbles

as they detour around what would have been his liver.


Not bones of the Richard we love to hate

but of the vulnerable weak and imperfect dead –

one glance at the photo and I want to weep.


Canny and capable of ruling England,

he wouldn’t allow this S-curved spine,

arranged now on black velvet,

to stop him.


Alongside the long-gash of an axe-headed halberd

to the crown of his head,

sits a U-shaped mandible.


Two leftover bone bits placed above it

form a Happy Face,

grinning not grimacing, directly at us.


He hid under sod,

his feet missing altogether,

under five centuries of other men’s bootsoles,

under a half century of parked Jaguars,

Aston-Martins and Bentleys.