The Chancellor and The Songstress — Prologue

[My first post of this year is the Prologue to a new poem titled The Chancellor and the Songstress, even though I have not yet published the concluding sections of 200. Some of the characters in this new poem are recycled from 200 Part 25 The Chancellor and the Fox ]


The Chancellor and the Songstress

“Some there were who conceived that to live moderately and keep oneself from all excess was the best defense against such a danger; wherefore, making up their company, they lived removed from every other and shut themselves up in those houses where none had been sick and where living was best; and there, using very temperately of the most delicate viands and the finest wines and eschewing all incontinence, they abode with music and such other diversions as they might have, never suffering themselves to speak with any nor choosing to hear any news from without of death or sick folk. Others, inclining to the contrary opinion, maintained that to carouse and make merry and go about singing and frolicking and satisfy the appetite in everything possible and laugh and scoff at whatsoever befell was a very certain remedy for such an ill.”

–Giovanni Boccaccio The Decameron


On this two thousand and twentieth fruition

of the incarnation of our beloved Lord,

two vans of St. John speed up the London strand

depositing their precious charge of moribund

souls at purgatory’s gates, one trailed by gloating

paparazzi, flanked by a pomp of police, the other

now relatively free of fame accompanied

by a small coterie of faithful followers,

some young enough only to know her from YouTube.

The thronging streets mostly deserted by a people

affrighted by the irksome pestilence sent

by the motions of the stars to try the iniquity

of men, into the hands of sisters of mercy

and of morphine are delivered the pair

into the labyrinthine hospital named for

a skeptical apostle, their fate unfathomable

as the destination of the eddying waters

of the tidal river that staggers between city

and sea, unsure whether to stay or go.