The Queen Bee

The Queen Bee beholds the hurricane
from within the eye of the storm,
beyond the gales and the rain—
thinking herself mistress of that swarm.

Thrilling in the vortical powers,
she flaps her small wings much faster
to grow the winds and showers
like a true black magic spellcaster.

Buzzing louder in the funnel’s eye
she exults in the stormy view,
but no one commands the sky—
both queen and beehive are destroyed, too.

*Note— Queen Bees do not command any bee in the hive, but instead release odorous pheromones to let the worker bees know when she needs to eat and mate. As to other bees, they communicate through “waggle dances” and through odors also. This poem is an allegory, obviously, more concerned with humans than bees.

Golden Age Killjoy

You naysaying canary,
shrilling in the open air
with a song so wary—
“Beware, fools! Beware!”

Contrarian canary,
why are you full of distrust?
His answer’s quite scary:
“The boom and the bust!”

You gloomy, winged prophet,
why speak of imminent doom?
Why not just come off it
and enjoy the boom?

“Because the sky is falling
as you drink unto wealth’s dregs,
debtors will be calling
to come break your legs.”

You petulant little bird
flapping in your little cage,
why should we heed your word
in this Golden Age?

“Because you see only the gleam
and think only of the sum,
yet it is but a dream—
the collapse will come.”

Who are you to question us?
We have built lustrous empires!
“Foundations crumble, thus,
and all end in pyres.”

“You have your heads in the ground,
mining gold so as to thrive,
but heed the ancient mound,
men buried alive.”

You vile, pernicious creature!
You’re more crow than canary!
“I am a mere preacher,
though my moods vary.”

“Continue mining the earth
to build castles in the sky
and discover their worth—
rich kings, too, shall die.”

The Houndmaster And The King

There was a King who loved the thrills
of hunting beasts with his black powder gun,
and though he boasted sole pride in his kills,
he employed many hounds, also, for his fun.
The King had a Houndmaster who served him true,
staying with the hunting dogs all day and night;
he treated the dogs like his own children, too,
teaching them to sit, run, stay, and never bite.
Yet, the King had his Houndmaster beaten
for each dog that failed in the hunt,
and if no game was gained, nought was eaten
by man or dog—by leader, breeder or runt.
In time the King tired of his old Houndmaster
and gave him one last chance to prove his worth
or else the Houndmaster would not last ere
the next day’s dawn bled upon the earth.
It was evening when the King decreed
that a Hart would be his to stay his wrath
or else the King would thereafter feed
the Houndmaster to his canine riffraff.
The Houndmaster looked at the collared ring
that bound his beloved dogs in hand,
and he remarked, “Power is a fleeting thing,”
before loosing the dogs to scour the land.
The hounds did well, chasing a flighty Hart
toward the King as he took careful aim,
and the biting bullet found the most vital part
to stop the soul and down the game.
But as the King dismounted to peer
at the crowned beast felled by his pride
the hounds circled round and round, drawing near
to take their share from within the hide.
“Get back, you beasts!” the King thus raged,
striking them with his gun’s wooden stock,
“or I shall have you whipped, starved, and caged!”
But out here the pack did not fear such talk.
The hungry hounds growled and paced
round the King whom they did not fear,
eyeing him as they did the Hart they raced
and licking their teeth with a strange leer.
The King realized his deadly isolation
and shouted for help from his old Houndmaster,
but he was trapped, despite his royal station;
however fast was he, the hounds were faster.
He attempted to remount his panicking horse
and flee the bloodthirst he had unwittingly whetted,
but the hounds beset him without remorse:
each meal denied was now a meal regretted.

Before dusk the hounds returned to the castle
to be leashed once again and brought inside,
so the Houndmaster took them, without hassle,
to the kennel, their stomachs satisfied.

Lenaea

Sour grapes have never been sweeter
when victory, in the spirit of Pyrrhus,
dances in the scorched earth of Demeter
and chants loudly, “Fear us! Fear us!”
so as to endear ourselves to Dionysus
with a wine like hubris, a dizzying draught
confusing Athena unto a moral crisis
while we celebrate the destruction wrought.
Burn down all but the overripe vineyards
and let the fomented masses trample grapes,
otherwise their hearts may feel the poniards
of Nemesis, from whom no one escapes.
All life is a bitter festival of plays
whose tragedy is a captious chorus,
so make a satyr play of all the foolhardy days
when preachy tragedies begin to bore us.
Drink! Drink! Deaden the sorrow
so you may exult in a battle finally won…
for today, though the loss of tomorrow
will reckon the cost with blood-fingered Dawn.
Aeschylus of old, and Sophocles, held as second
among the Greeks, followed by Euripides,
a cynic before his time— they all beckoned
and yet we still attempt pure-lipped pleas
as we accost the Fates with approval
while our mouths are stained sour
with wine, and blood, for which no removal
is assured as we drink more with each festive hour.
This triumph is but the pomp of prologue,
so now comes the suffering of the Acts
which sobers those lost in the Bacchic fog
and clears eyes with wintry-winded facts.
More wine! More! Stomp the splendid fruits
begot by our labor; stomp while standing tall
upon cothurni shoes, those conceited stage-boots
which elevate while pressing down all.
Hold fast the mask, too, ere it drops
to reveal the flinching face which grieves;
a thing, like all other furnished stage props,
is true insomuch as the audience believes.
Like Janus, from whom January takes its name,
we are two-faced with every harvest
and pride ourselves while stamping shared shame
upon others for the same katharsis.
The error is ours, and so, too, the exacting price,
for in winning we have lost to our laurels
which strangle as ivy while we embrace our vice
as virtue, unrestrained by Homer’s morals.
And so comes the exodus, oft too soon,
because the winepress bleeds divine nectar
for Dionysus, always cursing with a boon
sees peripety befalling both Achilles and Hector.
Tragic irony does not teach us to be wiser
nor dissuade us from following Fate’s script—
rather, we are blinded by pride’s gleaming visor
as a horse, saddled and beaten and whipped.
So go on with the festival, the plays, the wine,
and drink behind your masks, and choke, then,
trying to add your voice to the choral line;
the goddess, Nike, has oft misspoken.