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Nkima Speaks

A Toast to the Master, Edgar Rice Burroughs

David A. Adams

The Sunday comics spread out

Across his broad chest like a colorful quilt of old,

A quiet chuckling that no longer warmed

A noble heart grown stone cold.

It is said he was alone in those final moments,

Yet we know the Warlord was beside him as he fell

With one strong hand upon his brow,

Wishing welcome to the stars, and farewell.

All the swords of Barsoom lay across the bed

And a wreath of blossoms fresh-plucked

From the fields of Pellucidar. Slaves

And freemen alike wept beside the cushioned head.

In the shadows of one silent corner, great

Greystoke watched with grim-set lips.

At the last moment his fingers touch his Fatherís knife,

Then came an animalís sigh, seeing it was too late.

The pyre was large that day,

For all the beasts and kingdoms he had made

Were consumed with that last breath;

Yet they still live upon the page.

So we raise the jeweled cup in companionship

Beneath the spreading tree that bears no more.

We feast the last upon those golden plates,

A gathering of friends who once knew high Opar.

He was the Master of our fantastic days,

Standing stronger than our strongest real.

We thank him for the winding ways

That draw us forth from a world that seems to fail.

He made us familiar with jungle paths

When only concrete touched our barest feet;

He lifted our eyes to his eternal dream

When lesser men cried out in defeat.

Drink one cup to this Jeddak of adventures we know so well,

Then turn down the glass upon these hills

That the dregs pour out upon an earth that loved him best,

The living things that imagination fills.

February 26, 1999