into the woods - prologue

and at that time and in that place
where shadows of the elm laid trace
we gathered there for debate
of matters small and matters great

first to arrive and tucked up tight
came a maid of whom moonlight
never swept across her form
by way of curtain lust swift drawn
though fair of face she held a pallor
her cheeks they had a tint of sallow
yellowness where flush might be
though in advance we all agreed
not to state ought of her looks
for she had read in many books
and magazines o'er many years
that women oft' provoke men's fears
and if our oath we did break
this lady did this promise make
to quit our talks and report
this space not safe to the public court
and bring down upon our heads
opprobrium both dire and dread
for she did not trust our motives
leading her into the greenwoods
no matter how loud our protestation
to avoid misty WIFI congestion
therein to grow thoughts full and fat
without the need of tinfoil hat
but she feared we lured her from her home
beyond the signal of her phone
she kept her hand clasped at her chest
and spoke in shortened anxious breaths
of how she feared it looked like rain
feared she was the only woman
and was any other feeling cold
and was that breeze a trifle bold
a friendship bracelet bound her wrist
she declared herself a humanist

next came a man of not quite forty
with trilby angled on the jaunty
his countenance was bright and friendly
his leather jacket worn and trendy
and on his lapel in neat medaled line
ran coloured badges as a sign
of where he had marched and whom he fought
in constant strife of justice sought
for bombs disarmed to till the soil
securing blood for men and not for oil
but the badge he held in most esteem
wore pride of place to buckle jeans
hand crafted it was with much bravura
it was the crucified che guevara
and as it was by a catholic made
who plied his wares to the tourist trade
three LED lights shone bright green
to show che's features quite serene
this feature after sunday mass
amazed the children and made them laugh
thus he sought to break the ice
and lead them to his message nice
that jesus too was just like che
they both robbed the banks of their day
so confused was the doctrine of this vicar
that the bishop despaired and many sniggered
but the heresy was not that great
and it did put dough in the collection plate
so they left him thus to fish his sea
he was very liberal C of E

now despite our meeting in the woods
the next among us wore a hood
he claimed he was a wanted man
on account of eating ham
he preferred to stay behind a tree
we shouldn't worry he could see
and would offer freely his opinion
unless it happened that his cousin
might be out to walk his dog
and happen up through the bog
that lay just beyond where we gathered
we should know his cousin was called javed
his boxer dog was called khan
we must hoot like an owl to give alarm
before we could object or agree
perchance an owl made him flee
we saw him no more and knew not his fate
that poor islamic apostate

perfumed pines did sweetly smell
as velvet night enclosed and fell
the waning moon revealing curve
as one by one the stars above
betook their place in constellation
to hold counsel of our conversation
as we looked across those grassy marshes
settling into peace and darkness
at the horizon touched by the sun
the crashing sea but as a hum
as constant as the flow of blood
in an ear when touched by love

well chosen was this spot in truth
an amphitheater to stage our proofs
with each a log and formed around
a pit of fire - should stoa need be found
the trees that crept up to the clearing
made perfect place within hearing
where those in private might go
and stay within the fire glow
to consider or to prove a point
then take their place again in light

next there came with camera crew
a muslim man well known on news
if an editor needed rash comment
eagerly he'd shout and vent
of bushy beard and eastern dress
his raven eye caused much distress
to many with his bumptious claim
that christmas was a vicious game
for turkey was a muslim land
and so it was with slight of hand
christians on the twenty fifth
dined full fat on muslim flesh
perhaps he did not know the bird
nor if was true what he had heard
not that it mattered for his views
were controlled by magic jews
if wrong or so he asserted
when from his mouth error blurted
like when he said for a happy life
a man must have at least ten wives
this he claimed on television
but quickly he made forced revision
in ideal world he claimed in wit
for he was claiming benefit
and therefore under sharia law
he was clearly far too poor
for ten wives and support them
magic jews again had tricked him
or so he told the documentary
but it was all elementary
come glorious day this great man
would pigs and monkeys all confound

a note need be added here
in case my satyr too severe
in no way do I suggest
those holy by the prophet blessed
by this man are represent
but when I asked he was sent
and yes I fear him too extreme
a moderate of high esteem
was what was asked not what I got
and so I must accept my lot
just as chaucer got the bawdy miller
this man will do as comic filler

besides if this verse sees light of day
it must to the fashion play
and this chap is never off the screen
so popularity must needs obscene

let critics with their salty hands
bemoan and plague this plate of fruit
what care the fauns of these lands
of meter rhymes and rules laid suit
when those without divine intent
who plod out words with their pen
in cryptic verse of modern bent
demand these laws return again

pass the wine and join the dance
beat out the drum for here we dance
and if the plodders choose to prance
smile forbearance of the snide
for in le corbusier's dream they hide
for fear of that what lays outside

oh juvenal reign down in mirth
come forth milton and give birth
give apples sweet to great dante
make bottom dear again donkey
for piled high are quince and grapes
from this full dish the merry sates
should they not choose to prate
fat chance of that in this world mate

for poetry now is a shriveled thing
where once philosophy took wing
the barren realm of I is king

no more delight in word and wit
just foolish gold of arsenic
and angry cries from targets hit

so with loosened tongue and lifted palate
plosive lips and glottal free
let us hang the last of our gallery
and ignore the psalms of those who hate

first came in woe and lamentation
fresh from fruitless consultation
a rabbi held up faultless in the law
this man could recite the torah
word perfect from the age of nine
and talmud if he had the time
not that he did for he was pressed
closing the seas of exodus
as more of his congregation fled
to bounce on trampolines and beds
at the jumping jews for jesus hall
such anguished tears stained his shawl
mothers wept for their children
forsaking the unbroken generations
had they suffered persecution for this
the temporary thrill of uplifting bliss
with that dreaded book in hand
blood for blood on the sins of man
he was orthodox straight and true
his eyes they sparkled kind and blue
his laugh could light a room with joy
in private he a bisl goy
no harm had he or offence did hatch
yet here was landed on his watch
a challenge intractable with his lord
and worse for he plainly saw
there sitting with a camera crew
that muslim of shape-shifting jews
could his day grow more grim
to spend an evening with him
but he found the heart to face the trial
as joseph chained unto to the nile
for while he breathed and stayed a jew
for the lord his kindred could renew

final came the wrath of the lord
in instrument stout tory sword
material of hammered beryl
formal amazon made polecat feral
by efficient harpie's screams
you'll all agree or so it seems
perfect aristotle's four causes
of why she bought no roses
to decorate the family font
but swam across the hellespont
to the catholic and the universal
for she could made no reversal
on doctrinal points about priestesses
preferring incense'd men in dresses
candles books and bells and all creations
of mysterious transubstantiation
and though she kept the family seat
now she held it passionate
beryl's ordination may have sparked the storm
this lady's wrath in actual form
found ironic and surprising turn
when in no matter would she affirm
except through matter of virgin mary
thus justified in faith was she

and so she came to join the group
parked on logs in spreading wood

behold mortals and be afraid
I am the epiphany of this glade
witness round on all sides
all my creatures and all my spites
that will devour you if you run
the blackest dogs to eat tongue
flying elves will catch all cries
crush them bursting in bulging eyes
my satyrs be half man half goat
will seize by force life out from your throat
your hearts and livers lungs and lights
on them they'll feast in cold delight
and you two women in frenzy climbed
will rip the men limb from limb
ecstatically they will screech a laugh
holding high leg or arm as fennel staff
then naked I shall make them be
to sleep amid the blood run free
to wake at dawn to beg repent
emein the chunks of skin you ate

or if you stay to take my task
in my love you all shall bask
for I provide the finest joys

I need only point that wine will flow
name your delight it will be so
tonight you dine commes des rois

each of you will tell a story
that best describes the glory
of you monotheistic God

and saying thus the prologue ends
thank you all dear friends
for staying with this gaudy
of motley and of fools

◄ into the woods iv

the muslim's tale i ►


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