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.
How painful the blooming of the mind
when we leave childhood behind.
I don’t know which one to use for the cover. Maybe I can use both images, front and back for the book. Originally I had intended to use a watercolor painting, but I wanted this book to have the same aesthetic as my first book of poetry, “Ars Goetia: The Devil’s Advocate” so they look nice on a shelf together.
She fed her scaly cold-blooded heart
not unlike an embosomed snake
at first a week or so apart,
digesting each victim slowly to slake
her viper’s natural hunger,
eating only little mousy meals
which she happened to find among her
vale, between her two rounded hills
where the dark, dreaded damning drumbeat
coaxed onward her serpent’s appetite
for more blood, more bone, more meek meat,
given, in time, more often, every other night.
And yet, she inevitably began to wonder
at her Quetzacoatl heart’s growing needs
as its restless rhythm became as thunder
and feared it would eventually bite the hand that feeds
and die itself of the poison it bleeds,
and die itself of the poison it breeds.
A croaking, crow-throated jester
who thinks himself the charnel king
of all things that fade and fester;
he delights in such corpse-feasting.
He is a fat frog, smug and bloated
on the flies that swarm a swamp of Death,
his complacent lily pad moated
by fetid waters and a miasmic breath.
Nor is he a frog-prince long ago cursed
by a witch using her black magic arts,
neither can his warty soul be reversed;
his smirk widens at an appeal to hearts.
Maggot-minded, his brains always teem
with the roadkill joys of life,
wallowing in the gangrenous cream
of accidents and tragedies and strife.
Battlefields are his favored playgrounds,
finding in their carnage endless mirth
as men are piled up in crimson mounds;
good fertilizer, he says, for the earth.
He is a patient vulture always at the edges,
like a valkyrie watching for warriors to fall
and laughing at them as he slyly hedges
his bets against one side, the other, and all.
He, himself, never cheers for any side,
considering Folly to be his only consort
as he admires his endlessly amusing bride
for her comic, cosmic, and karmic sport.
He is an organ harvester, a corpse collector,
a snide merchant of knowing smirks,
a plague doctor pleased by each new vector,
the profaner of the world’s most tragic works.
And, anthrax-tongued, his words devour
even the most cadaverous meaning left to us
dissembling like a carcass, hour to hour,
until only the bones remain—mors perpetuus.
Like Ammit, with its grinning crocodilian teeth,
as hearts are weighed on Judgment’s scales,
he awaits the caprices of Death to bequeath
his own sick pleasure in others’ travails.
He is ever a fiddleback recluse feeding
on those ensnared by the Web of Fate;
feeding on Life’s ironies, and always needing
more to satisfy his appetite for hate.
He is a carrion-seeking vulture
picking at the ruin of other peoples’ lives,
living only to enjoy a nihilistic culture
and speaking with a beak of butcher knives.
See how he feasts upon sorrow and ruin and rot,
claiming that he cares not one whit?
That is because he wishes to feel naught
and is, like me, a hypocrite.
The shrike: the butcher bird with its bloody beak
impaling prey on the thorn-borne crown of Christ
so it may decorate its nest with the mangled meek
and rationalize every era’s ghastly zeitgeist.