Offal’s Lessons In Manners

Offal, the court fool, speaks:

“A lord marked a swineherd at his morn meal.
‘How came you by such uncouth manners, friend?’
The swineherd spoke while he ate to his fill.
‘Manners are not so hard to comprehend.
My hogs have manners, too, which oft contend
with the highest lord ruling in his land,
for though they lay in the filth they expend
it behooves them to not use a hoofed hand,
their snouts deep in what they don’t understand.”

“The lord, astride his horse, snorted disdain.
‘You would do better to learn from your lord.’
The swineherd swallowed and, without refrain,
laughed aloud, eyeing his lord’s long, sheathed, sword.
He said, ‘I have learned much from my swine horde.
Indeed, they are not afeared of the blade
for they are too happy among filth, lord,
to know the blade till its kiss has been made
across the throat and their life debts are paid.’

“The lord blinked, confused at such unconcern.
‘Had you sense you would not speak quite so free.’
The swineherd did not flinch, but took a turn
around his sty, watching his hogs till he
saw the sow roll in grime and gunk and glee.
He then said, ‘Had you sense you would know how
filth can come out of either end of me,
but I find truffles well as any sow,
which I gift to you, lord.’ He gave a bow.

“‘You bring me no truffles!’ the lord replied.
‘Indeed, I think you hoard them for yourself!’
The swineherd smirked from ear-to-ear, quite wide,
not unlike a mischievous bogle elf.
‘Go to my larder and look at each shelf.
I am deprived of truffles, and of care,
for I have not your manners or your wealth.’
The lord dismounted his horse, haughty his air,
and went to the cottage to look in there.

“Meanwhile the swineherd went to the lord’s horse
and fetched the lord’s blade from the bridle’s sheath.
He said, ‘Oft one must be careful, of course,
for swineherds among hogs may come to grief
wherefore fallen—however long or brief—
they may feed their lessers with the fumble
for hogs rush to claim what others bequeath,
even if unwitting be the stumble.’
The lord came out, then, with a gruff grumble.

“‘I found my truffles, knave!’ he growled aloud,
his arms cradling truffles like a farrow,
but afore he could say aught else, he bowed,
his neck split from a slash, clean and narrow.
Away fled his spirit, like a sparrow.
The swineherd fed the body to his swine
and buried the bones beneath a barrow.
‘Ill-mannered hogs may begrime when they dine,
but they may yet end a royal bloodline.'”

Love…

…makes a dancing bear
of us all,
treading empty air
as we fall,
a grizzly creature
all the rage
to be the feature
on Love’s stage.
Such a fearful bear
to be whipped
but going nowhere,
the hide stripped,
so sad and funny
dancing so,
earning some money—
dimes a show.
So shortchanged, it seems,
yet we still
tarry on with dreams
while tears spill,
striving to be tamed
by Desire,
beaten till so lamed
we expire,
wearing a beanie
(so absurd)
and flinching keenly
at each word
from our strict mistress
with her whip,
hoping she’ll hiss less
from the hip
and perhaps kiss us
ere too long,
become our missus,
(just stay strong),
for we’re her star pet
needing hugs,
not her stretched carpet
or throw rugs.
Right?

The Jester King

Broken Crown Kings CoverfinalBRIGHTANDSIZEDDOWN

The king of both forest and glade
wanders through his hall of trees
and stops by a hut within the shade
where a song laces within the breeze.
A patchwork fool lives in that abode
who knows every song ever sung
and the king sits down to hear an ode
from a fool with a golden tongue.
The fool is crowned just as well
as this antlered king among kings;
his head hung with many a silver bell
that jingles and rings as he sings.
He has a fair voice, and fair cadence,
as he sings to honor wisdom and wit,
but the jingle-jangle bells incense
the monarch into a wrathful fit.
The monarch chases the fool away
who drops behind him his jingling motley
and the king attacks it where it lay,
the attire entwining quite tautly
with the spikes of his bony, branching crown
so that each furious toss of his head
jingles the bells hanging down,
not free, but ringing instead.
And henceforth he is lost forever
to a fury as unceasing as Hell’s,
racing and raking and resting never—
unable to escape the jester’s bells.