The Chancellor and The Songstress Part 3

The Second Song of the Songstress

The Balloon Men

Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt?


The lipsticked smile of the songstress grew and grew

until it filled the whole of ICU.

In helium-pitched voice, the giantess

began a caberet to sing. “Mein Kanzler,

since you now have ample time to spare,

I have a little tale about a balloon to tell.

A moral tale of bulldog spirit and derring-do

no less, Mein Kanzler, specially for you.

‘Twas in the days of yore when gentleman

adventurers took to the skies in huge un-navigable

balloons filled with hot air. Neither the dirigiste state

of Napoleon the Third nor Paris Communards

could ground the exploits of those valiant entrepreneurs.

Up, up into the clouds they flew, like Captain Kirk,

or Socrates in the Nephelai. Away over

the poppy-littered fields of foreign lands they soared,

until that basketful of portly gents began

to sink under the surfeit of their weight

into a no-mans-land. The natives shook their spears

in fearful anger at these floundering Übermenschen

in their devilish machines. Our heroes therefore,

calculists to a man, booted the mechanism

of their brains right up as far as it would go,

and tossed the weakest and least useful of their flock,

measured by sure parameters, out onto

the points of waiting weapons below. The beery,

bald, bigoted, and flat-footed, and the oafish

bully, along with moaning minnies, one by one

were coldly offered to the merciless justice

meted out by laws of gravity and natural

selection of the herd, until there were none left,

Mein Kanzler, only the pretty colored fabric

of the balloon to flit deflating on the air

and sigh out its last breath. And there the story ends.

There is, however, just a little postscript

to this tale. For those upon the ground, their minds

befuddled by the ill-boding omen in the sky

and star-men tumbling earthwards out of heaven

like rain, turned, in their warlike superstition,

upon each other’s throats in mutually-assured

self-slaughter, leaving the land a waste of ash

ready for nature to begin her work afresh.

I walk, a modern Noah, in the mind’s eye

of my childlike imagination around

this post-apocalyptic scene devoid

of human stain and chance upon a single

multicolored bloom that’s not yet gone and offer

that pretty fading flower, Dear Chancellor, to you.


The Chancellor and the Songstress Part 2

The Chancellor’s First Song

Hymn to the Flora of the World and the Rights of Spring

“In the last analysis, man may be defined as a parasite on a vegetable.” – Hans Zinsser, ‘Rats, Lice and History’

The chancellor lulled, truth sprouts uncommonly

from his frosty lips, as vernal snowdrops

urge their way peeping through the winter slush.

“I recognize that hippie chick…” he thinks, “playing

the Centre Pompidou… or maybe Piccadilly

Circus begging for change…” Clearing his throat, he pulls

himself up to his full height in bed and wags

an oximeter-clad finger at the songstress

and croons a ditty of the days of Ancient Greece,

the finest flourish of democracy and all

the heroes of the Peloponnesian War. “For

victory will always be our happy lot. For

even when the Dardanelles were all a-flower

with the ship-wrecked corpses of our mates, home loomed

upon the skyline and beckoned us to it. For

Spring will always win. Lambs will be born and blossom

grace the boughs of trees lining the grassy verges

of suburban streets. And speechless babes will chortle

blithely in their cribs as frisky mums and dads busy

themselves about their reproductive and productive work.

For life shall always triumph over decay. See

how abandoned kitchen gardens cover with weeds

and go to seed. How wildlife and flora swiftly

overrun the tombstones of the sleeping dead. This

whole wide wild world is bursting at the seams

with its vitality, begging us cultivate it.


In May, the swaying umbelliferous florets

of the wild garlic flavor the springy breeze.

And fields of buttercups and Queen Anne’s Lace swaddle

the landscape with a crocheted sea of feisty biomass.

For spring will always out and hope will always stir

in male and female hearts alike across this storied realm.

The fairy flowers in their hats of powder blue

are dancing in the woodlands to the sound of little bells,

as toads croak out their oracles atop their stools

of death-cap and destroying angel. Foxglove

and nightshade fill the pharmacy of mother nature

with their remedies. For life will never be vanquished,

and all the energy expended and labor

done by women and by men to coax it gently

from a wilderness of tares and stony ground shall

be redoubled in return, like light reflected

from the mirrored surface of a pool. Spring will be

sprung again and hopes will up, and summer will be

a-coming in again in time. Light will prevail over

the darkening cloud of bonfire smoke and horrid night

and celebrate its victory with rockets and

Catherine wheels and Roman candles. And, in due course,

the offspring of our battered family tree shall

reap a mighty crop of rights and fruits abundant

as the stars that speck the sky. And we shall heap high

harvest festival fruits on altars in our churches

to Our Lord, table legs bowed under the weighty

glut of King Edward potatoes, Royal Gala

apples, Imperator carrots, and Victoria plums;

teasels nodding assent in quickening autumn squalls

under the pendulous berries that bless our forests in fall.

Thus do we forfend evil and hail the bonhomous

equinox for one and all,” the Chancellor concludes.


After this bluster of abundance of all bar

caution, the Chancellor steps down from his soap box

and confidently cedes the disinfected floor.