For Paula H.
Before I share my epic tale with you,
Please be advised adversity’s in tow,
Which might resemble miseries a’ brew
In feudal farm communities you know…
Beleaguered by the wretched blight of drought,
Our crops once verdant withered in their beds;
Our throats were parched; the wells had all dried out
Below that unjust sun above our heads!
In hope’s last ditch, we pulled ourselves together
Beneath the menace of that burning sun.
We schemed to overcome the nasty weather—
And I was chosen as the lucky one
Who’d take on brutal aristocracy
Inside the castle’s potent, stone defenses.
Though how I’d get in was a mystery
Quite disagreeable to my frail senses…
Somehow I’d scale that granite carapace
And like a burlap sack half-filled with flour,
I’d drop to certain death in pale disgrace—
Not how I’d hoped to spend my final hour.
My neighbors pushed me up the steep façade—
A feat achieved with cold tenacity
And pitchforks poised to terrorize and prod
Lest reason should discourage bravery.
It wasn’t long before I’d reached the top
And feebly slumped down to the pitch below.
A happy “humph” in answer to my “plop”
Was all I heard from friends now turned to foe…
Alone, engulfed in stone, my knees felt weak
And quaked like autumn oak’s last clinging leaf.
I yearned to hide, yet knew I had to seek
A remedy to slake my kinsmen’s grief
(For well I knew they had a valid beef).
So there I stood, a little worse for wear,
With bumps and bruises forming by the tick;
My clothes were torn and leaves were in my hair
And knots inside my gut made me feel sick.
I scuttled ’round a pillar like a prawn
Might claw its way along the ocean’s depths
Until I reached the Kingdom’s royal lawn:
I lack for words (for nothing rhymes with “depths”)
To illustrate the wonder of that scene!
A massive span of fertile, rolling leas
With dewy, dappled hues of gold and green
That thrummed with buzz of busy honey bees,
Who hovered over clover, grass and hay
(A beast of burdens’ grazing paradise!)
Abounding with bright blooms in bold array
Encircling the field for five miles thrice
On winding tendrils’ fierce vitality
Entwined amongst the breezy willow trees.
Those flowers’ wafting scent arrested me
For blooms by any name will make me sneeze…
In stealth, I made a masterful retreat
And ducked into a marble entry way
In time to fall in line with marching feet
Of soldiers just returning for the day.
In dusk’s disguise, I tiptoed through the door,
Then turned a corner leading to a room
With marble, thatch and porcelain décor—
When lowing rumbles harkened certain doom
As royalty approached my hiding place!
I understood those bellows as a sign
That it was nigh time to obscure my face
From frightful sounds uncommonly bovine!
With bland and dull brass clanking of a bell
Her Majesty’s arrival was announced
By sentries who obeyed that deathly knell
And cleared a path, avoiding getting trounced.
Her shadow darkly filled the room’s ingress—
It was the very last thing I did see,
For my reaction to the acridness
Took me headlong behind a porcelain scree.
The queen did then ascend her huge structure
Behind which I had scrambled in my fear.
Against my better sense to conjecture,
Deciphering, I learned some facts quite queer:
The luckless vantage point I had assumed
Was probably the worst I could have chosen,
For suddenly the room became perfumed:
Suffice to say, the stench was not ambrosian.
From her stout, four-hooved figure there did gush
A foul, brown, sticky liquid, and a moan…
What followed was an eerie-sounding flush
Broadcast from somewhere deep inside her throne!
That sound inspired a shocking calculation—
A reckoning I would not soon forget:
Our greedy queen had scorned our trepidation
And built herself a shiny, new toilet!
(‘Twas bad enough that founts no longer spurted
From natural springs that ere sustained crop-yields—
But now I knew their flow had been diverted,
And drought alone had not destroyed the fields…!)
How rage then filled me, I can’t quite express.
Royal or not, that beast above my head
Released a demon I could not suppress—
The queen was on that throne, but I saw red!
I can’t account for just what happened next
(The kind of thing, perhaps, when one feels vexed?),
But from prodigious muscles that I flexed
Her Highness found herself somewhat perplexed!
Apparently, I’d lifted up that throne
And heaved it like a bundled bale of hay!
The blaring “Moo!” the queen did then intone
Was indication that she rued the day!
There then arose an uproarious cheer
From far and wide through stony vestibules.
A grateful sentry offered me a beer
And furnished for my cause a pair of mules
To tow away my handsome hero’s pay
In a cart that just could scarcely hold her.
Discovering I’d somehow saved the day,
If not wiser, surely, I felt older…
As I approached our township with my haul,
My family rejoiced and shouted, “Wow!”
From this day forward I’ll be known by all:
The farmer who dispatched that dreadful cow…
Though my remaining days will yet accrue,
Tonight, it’s safe to say that I’m a winner—
The coals are glowing in my barbecue,
Because Chateaubriand is what’s for dinner!