War Soliloquy

“There be no mercy here. There be no pardon.
No haloes have we in the clemency of saints arrayed, but with mane of the lion haloed, and given to crimson appetite such as begets bestial slaughter. Beg off.  Beg off with thy entreaties to gentler nature, for we’ve none, but with fang and claw keenly paired giveth unto surfeit that rage innate in all whom so wronged seeketh recompense. This is reckoning inexorable in its numeration. Doff thy fleece. Doff thy fleece, for poorly it becometh thou. Prepare thyself as well may prepare the sexton. A roar, though deafening as thunder, is but the death of an ear soon reconciled with a truer silence. And that silence shall follow fast. Take what comfort thou may in that surcease. Mouth the words of braver men. Mouth the prayers of thy Lord, should he proffer ear to hear. No Daniel walks here, unafraid, nor would such as he escape wrath such as ours. The den resounds, thou bleating fool. We come. By fang and claw we shall slake the thirsty dust with thy meager make. Believe no shade of doubt in this, for it conceal thee not. By day or night, villain, we see thee clear and, as hound to mark, seeketh unrelentingly. Whether thou art steadfast in grim resoluteness toward thy end, or whether thou flee far from sudden battlefield, we shall pursue. As hound afoot or crow alight, we pursue thy bountiful blood. Doubt it not. The clarion of war ringeth as the sky in revolt. Lo, it soundeth in every thirsting throat.”

(Recently I have been reading Shakespeare’s more confrontational moments in his plays, such as Macbeth and Macduff’s fight scene, and I wanted to attempt something in the Shakespearean vein. With minimal success.)

It’s All Greek To Me

When you wear that frowning mask and speak,

it is, to me, nothing but gibberish, Greek,

and though you claim to be a tragedienne

I see you as nought but a comedian

like Aristophanes and his tale of frogs

or Priapos sporting his big phallic logs;

nor could any deus ex machina save

you from the shameless melodrama you crave

while you appeal to the chorus in strophe

to win you your Dionysian trophy.

Though you claim a Stygian monopoly,

your woes are less like that of Thermopylae

and more like Artemisia upon her prow,

lost to hysterics, smashing fleets like a plow.

Euripides grants no ambiguity

about your woes, or any gratuity;

he would offer you not one word of solace

while the mad mobs chased you out of the polis,

nor would Sophocles offer you a short verse

of sympathy for your much-lamented curse —

he would invite the Great Sphinx to devour you

or entomb you with Electra, out of view.

Aeschylus could not pity you any less,

sending after your sobs the Erinyes.

And poor old Homer, though so blind to the task,

could see how loose you wear that aggrieving mask,

thinking you like a Paris as you flee, thus,

from your lover ’s first husband, Menelaus.

Oh, but the Greeks haven ’t enough of such tales

to match your sobs and moans and woebegone wails,

so perhaps I should look to later, to Rome,

and therein find you a theatrical home

far from the fall of Troy, the Aeneid now,

the rise of Rome, or Augustus, anyhow,

and tracing Virgil to Catullus, in time,

and on to Ovid and each beautiful rhyme —

not to praise you, my persona non grata,

nor any of the other automata

that imitate tragedy out of boredom

like a debauchee lounging in his whoredom,

but to show how drama and poetry mean

more than an actor speaking lines for a scene.

Deathless Drama

Drama never dies a natural death,
but resuscitates at the drop,
rising again to eat the scenery on-stage,
without cue
in woodchipper expediency
like some theatrical Lady Lazarus
slobbering rabidly
and throwing up
in the audience’s faces all of the
paint chips and other
pregnancy cravings
she has devoured,
having poisoned herself with
and sprawling out to her own dirge,
flailing arms and legs and shouting wild
accusations and rapid-fire monologue gossip
about her own murder,
about her own resurrection,
never happy with life
and never settling down to a
permanent death.
The only way to properly kill drama
is to ignore her
and walk out from the theater.
Do not even ask for a refund.
Much Ado About Nothing
should always be a play
and never a way of life
or death.

History’s Histrionics

She moves with a
Neoclassical grace,
each stiffly postured motion
and pretensed
in staged extravagance whose effect
is one of seismic shifts
and cultural
sashays, ever sliding
forward, yet away from
She is so
yet avant-garde,
her swishing secondhand hem line the
cutting edge
while her precipitous
are the indulgence of every
conceited season.
Among a soiree of
charlatans and
she is the most honest and open
in her
A coy smile one moment
gives way to a
great wailing the next
over the pettiest faux pas,
and yet
the tiniest trifle
so wildly affects her
that it affects us all
as the whole world stands at the ready
to defend her honor
with war
while the mascara
runs lugubriously down her face
to sweep us away with its
black, murky drama of
and “Why?”
and “How?”
and “Who?”
as we prepare the
duelling pistols
with which we will
give her one more bloody matter
whereby to practice herself
the tragedienne.