The Chancellor and The Songstress Part 5

The Third Song of the Songstress

The Toppling of the Chairman of the Board

The songstress yawns, her lips forming a sleepy smile,

feeling much fresher today. The chancellor comatose

beside her, his body shuddering dubiously

with each troubled breath. She ne’ertheless wishes

him well, not in his vile project, but in life,

recalling the diazepam-fuelled dream she had

the night before.

*

“The cobbled footwear of the chairman clatters across

the sturdy quayside stones; a single silver buckle

adorns each shoe. His cane taps at his merchandise

approvingly and points admiringly at tall sails

ready to journey abroad. The Indies beckon

with their sugar, spices, and snuff. Tea is all the rage.

The chairman is the center of a little global

village, lord of this country manor writ large

in blood and gold and blessed in the Palladian

style by his almighty Lord. The Hierarchy

from uncreated God through Angels, Governments,

and Squires down to the unwashed plebs and beasts and worse

is sure as granite rock, safe as a stable precious

metal currency amidst a paper market storm,

stern as a patriarch’s staff against the bodies

of his cowering servants and sons. Corseted daughters

good only for dancing and marriages, dowries

and duets on the piano forte, their fineries

afforded by the labor whipped from the backs

of slaves. Daddy is a philanthropist…”

The songstress

pauses in reminiscence a while remembering

her own father, the tatters of Ancient Kakania,

the fading graces of its Empire still littering

her parental home. Perhaps in yesteryear their paths

had crossed, her mum and dad, the jolly chairman and

the chancellor’s avuncular ancestors,

together in a flashing waltz of swords, they’d heard

the pop and swish of corks exploding  and champagne

gushing out and sipped from sleek slipper-shaped glasses,

lapped at alike by hypocrite infidel with decadent

western tastes, swanning around the courts of Europe

kissing ladies’ gloved hands. A culture as stagnant

and decayed as dry wild flowers propped in a miry

pool of  brownish green liquid in a vase, for whose

grim decoration the little drummers flocked to serve

in war. Back in the age of innocence before

Wagner and Freud, before movies and rock ‘n’ roll

filled up the dance halls with their chicks and yobs. The car

that Eddie drove into the ditch and wrecked en route

to Chippenham. The parties, drugs, policemen and members

of the tabloid press trashing young lives. The ashtrays

for the fag-end youth of plutocrats and landed

heirs of fortunes gathered long forgotten years ago.

*

“They toss a noose over the Chairman’s iron neck

and drag him down. His steely body first totters

like a toddler or a geriatric trying

to walk without a Zimmer frame; then collapses

into a mess of broken metal on the ground,

one leg snapping clean off, scooting away across

the cobblestones. The chairman’s brittle dismembered body

is then drawn by the cheering crowd on ropes

and dunked with curiously unceremonious ceremony

into the waters of the dock that wait to reclaim their son.”

*

The Chancellor lets out a sudden gruff grunt in sleep,

as if annoyed by some unwelcome interruption of his repose.

A punctured vein provides the brief bliss of relief and he falls back

into the calming arms of nothingness from whence his ever-living

soul once issued forth at the beginning of all time.

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The Chancellor and the Songstress Part 4

The Chancellor’s Second Song

The Little Drummer Boy

The Chancellor coughs and clears his throat, his glare piercing

the nebulized haze of air that hovers unstirred

over intensive care. “An anarchist is always

waiting unknown around the corner,” hoarsely

he declares, as a phlebotomist in makeup

vampire-pale withdraws his blood, before viffing away

to deal with other care-related chores. “Hooded

with Balaklava, wielding a brick of Semtex,

suspect device, tossing a cocktail Molotoff,

or cowering far off behind a screen of muffled  

sniper fire, the lurking dissident unleashes

a hail of terror on the convertible

the chauffeur is wrestling to put into reverse

en route to visit victims in the Sarajevo

hospital.

                  The nihilist was ‘one of our own’

this time, clutching a cluster bomb and pistol in

his grimy hands. Prince takes archduke. Promoted pawns

advance upon Tsar and Kaiser till the final

zugzwang brings battle to a halt with clang

of armistice bells and plaintive horn lamenting

the muddy dead and mass of living corpses propped

on invalid sticks, minds addled by the bullets

and ideology in the calm of silenced guns.

*

Stick tucked in crook of arm of well-creased khaki coat   

to look the part, the little drummer boy set out

from homely farm in rolling fields of green to fight

the Bulgar, Turk and Hun in foreign land. Out of

compassion and conviction vis a vis the status quo,

a pragmatism whose eyes were not occluded

by stars. No unicorns or rainbows ever graced

his sturdy vision of a just conservative world.

Enamored not of Russia, France or surly Serb,

no milksop sobbing over violated rights

on Belgian soil, he doggedly did his bit.

*

Smyrna and trench foot now gladly forgot,

his lawn bestrewn with daisies and children’s toys,

gourds gaining fertile girth on his allotted site,

he thrives in a tied cottage, thatched the old-fashioned

way, saluting king, flag, country, and soldiers

on parade. This is his duty and his station,

price of his creature comforts, calmer-down of souls.

And for remembrance, there is a hunk of metal

in every park and city square; and to this end

also in every corner of this world, there is

a little patch of dug up dirt that is forever

England’s.”

                        The chancellor, figuratively speaking,

lays down his waving flag and turns over to sleep.

The songstress, long since a-slumber, snores away. The beeps

of EKGs and gasps of ventilation pumps furnish

the doleful nightshift punctuation of the ward.