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.

Counterpane

That great vestal kingdom spread wide
with three circular walls around its castle
and vast, unsown fields on either side
untouched by each virtuous vassal.
A young princess lived there, in love and duty,
and was fated to be the queen of that land
once the world had given equal to her beauty
a man, in marriage, to take in hand.
But until that time, when she was ready,
her father remained lord over that realm,
keeping it safe, prosperous, and steady
until she was of age to assume the helm.
Her father’s castle had four tall towers
like the four posts of a curtained bed,
and the outer walls had held off many powers
that sought to conquer their curtained spread.

But there soon came a conqueror whose strength
was unmatched, his forces crafty and cruel,
and he deployed a small force, who, at length,
breached the first wall with ropes from a spool.
Once over, they opened the portcullis gate
and invited the wicked army past the defenses,
the king’s loyal army realizing all too late
what had happened— and lost their senses.
The second wall was buttressed with earthen mounds
heaped up like luxuriant pillows, and archers
stood guard from atop those vantage grounds,
yet it did not detour the invading marchers.
The invaders used gunpowder, sulphur, and fire
to blow a hole in the second chastity wall,
then charged in, shields raised high ere
the arrows could be released to kill them all.
The invaders climbed each bulwark mound
and slew the archers, (having outflanked them),
then turned their bloodlusting eyes around
to the final wall protecting the inner sanctum.
This wall was tall and crenelated at its stoop
and the defenders poured hot oil down below
to boil the invaders into canned soup;
yet the warlord would not heed the word “No.”

The siege came to a standstill, then, neither side
able to overcome the other’s forces,
but the warlord vowed he would not be denied
and ordered the trebuchets fitted with horses.
They launched the dead horses, like jeers,
and the rotten creatures spread a disease
like the black plague, thought gone for years,
but which spreads with rats and mice and fleas.
They stripped the outer walls of their stones
and used them, too, as salvoes cast
to strike the wall and break its bones
until it crumbled with each subsequent blast.
The wall fallen, in poured the horde,
killing all save the royal family members
whom they took before their warlord
while they stripped trees of their timbers.
For they created a platform of dread
crowned with a headsman’s chopping block
and, one by one, each royal lost their head
until the princess began her final walk.
The warlord looked upon that beauty
and he coveted her for his own,
so, he said he would marry her, as a duty
to legitimize his right to the throne.

The wedding was over rather quickly
and the warlord took her upstairs with a grin,
pushing her forward, and talking thickly
with drink and lust and the promise of more sin.
He stripped her dress with fumbling haste
and shoved her upon the bed with a laugh,
then began kissing her chest and her waist,
working his way up and down, fore and aft.
Nude in the fateful bedding hour,
she slipped out a small, hidden blade
and, with one slash, toppled his tyrant’s tower
at the base—unmanned, thus unmade—
then slipped the blade back in its sheath,
watching him bleed out, with pleasure.
At length, she masked herself in grief,
and dressed herself at her own leisure.
As for the blood dripping between her legs,
no one said anything, knowing of beddings,
and so she left, free, untainted by his dregs,
having avenged her family and their beheadings.

Ascension

Burnt Crown Kings - Copy

Lord Vanus was a sullen king
who resented the crowns of other men
as affronts to his own glory and everything
he prided himself upon as a sovereign.

In his resentment, Lord Vanus gazed upon
the fulgurous forks crowning the skies
and wished for his broody brow to somehow don
a crown likewise so blinding to human eyes.

So Lord Vanus ordered his blacksmith to form
from simple iron a crown of thorny rods
so as to draw to him the mighty thunderstorm
and outshine the brilliance of kings and gods.

The crown thus forged, he gathered unto him
his people from all parts of his many lands
and he stood atop his tallest tower, its crenellated rim
illumined as he spread out his welcoming hands.

“My people, I am to become as a god,” he said,
watching as another storm rumbled to the West.
“For I will crown myself as becoming of the thunderhead.”
He then awaited the storm with his crown upon his crest.

Lightning crackled and, in a dazzling flash of light,
his crown was of the heavens, branching and overspread
above his astonished people, who all saw that night
that he had a crown peerless upon his head.

When his people took his smouldering body down
they raised their Lord’s name up in a religious song,
saying he was now a god, because of his lightning crown;
their faith unquestioning among their singing throng.

They held a feast in honor of their ascendant king,
eating and drinking and dancing at great cost,
as did the other lords in their own lands, each laughing
and plotting, too, to take what Lord Vanus had lost.