Triptych From an Imaginary War

i. Child-king amongst his subjects

Slapping him on the back
the old boy with the pitch-fork twang
tells him to have his pick of the girls
 
The girls, slouched in the cottage door,
do not know how to take this,
and that night, dumb with terror,
say nothing when he comes
 
This angers him;
he petulantly rides away at dawn,
having first ordered the castration of the yokel,

And works off his temper
by invading France

 
ii. Shakespeare and co.
 
It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it;
maintaining a presence, that is,

Unopened bodies lie in their bags
at border outposts where
no lieutenants come
to pass their orders round
 
They should have been identified and buried,
they should have been recorded and dispatched
 
They should not have been
sitting in the meadow by the river
quietly quoting poetry
 
That, is carelessness,
that, is how things like literature start

 
iii. The Song of Macmorris
 
She was willow when the grass was green
and the orchard of her country
was covering, blessed and sweet

She was hawthorn when the bier froze and mummers in their element
were iron hard to dragon thaw
 
She was the blossom of cherry trees
when ghosting drovers and airmen
rattled the squalling year
 
She was russet when the hill fell soft
in the turning from ripe to raw
when she was nature's country 
and its civil war 

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