Battle Of The Wits

I prefer Saki to Wilde

like a gleeful little child

too busy throughout his day

with the games he likes to play

to eat but in little bites

the sour-sweet dessert delights,

each story packing a punch

that does enough as a lunch

for an intellect in need

of some nourishment to feed,

and, besides, he does not cloy,

being subtle, this choirboy

whose wit prefers not to preach,

but seeks with humor to teach

lessons acerbic, yet smooth,

like a tonic meant to soothe,

yet burns when it’s ingested

to purge someone phlegm-chested.

I hold nothing against Wilde

nor Dorian Gray, so styled

with wit as to be satire

of satire itself, a pyre

in which irony aflame

immolates the author ’s shame —

an enlightenment most quaint

despite its destructive taint

that hounded him in his life

and cost him his lovely wife.

But while both men have now won

readers generations on

and lived the same span of years

while closeted for their fears,

Saki died before such fame

could make or break his strange name.

A sniper ’s gun found him out

in the trenches, at a shout

to snuff out a cigarette

only to die himself, yet

even his death was satire —

for, ere the sniper did fire,

Saki sought to ward the eye

of Death, so none else might die,

but, in so doing, passed from

service, life, till kingdom come.

Saki fought and died in France,

enlisting despite the chance

of the combat and horror

well known in the First World War

whereas Wilde died destitute

in Paris, in ill repute,

not that I blame him for it

or for each close-minded Brit

that despised him for his book

or the astute views he took;

it is just that Saki knew

how to keep just out of view

(save when in a sniper ’s sight

in the early morning light),

but the point is simply this:

Saki did not take the piss.

He loved Britain, in his way,

and fought for it, till the day

he was laid to rest, at last,

which showed that his writing past

was love of life, of folly,

and though sharp, too, was jolly

and he critiqued Britain well

with the tales he had to tell,

proving satire is best done

of what you love most, or none,

for it is, otherwise, spite

and, so, propaganda —trite,

of little substance or worth,

and very little of mirth.

Sharp, witty, and full of love:

thus does writing rise above

the pettiness it records

and thus deserves great rewards.

After all, life is a jest

told with great love, if told best.

Funeral Portrait

Wildeflowers have never bloomed so gay
as they had bloomed thus for Dorian Gray
and yet with the open bloom came, too, doom,
for it had birthed him from his own secret tomb.
Like Achilles mourning his dead “friend”
he sought himself and fate to his own end;
to be sincere requires sacrifice,
your own or the world (a small part will suffice)
and it means blooming from furrowed turf
fertile with corpses buried in the earth—
corpses of the old, prejudiced ways
to beautify with flowers the coming days.