The Emperor of Weeping (Todd Dillard)

Every night teacup elephants 

emerge from my mother’s grave. 

I love their dopey gait, that sway

like paper boats lumbering downriver. 

The rapping of their feet like china 

trembling at passing trains. 

One by one I pick them up

and smash them on the ground. 

My plan is to gather the pieces 

and build a bigger grief. 

One too big to squeeze

through death’s little stone door. 

I will ride it around town

like the Emperor of Weeping. 

What a good son! people will say. 

Just look at his bandaged hands. 


Todd Dillard‘s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Hobart After Dark, Barrelhouse, Sixth Finch, The Offing, and The Adroit Journal. His debut collection of poetry “Ways We Vanish” was a finalist for the 2020 Balcones poetry prize. 


image: MM Kaufman