by J. Max Wilson
East of the cemented waste, the aspen stood, a sapling still,
And there a few aphidian peasants leeched their lives from phloemâ€™s rill.
They lapped the aspenâ€™s sweetest sap; rapt in bohemian blissmare, blindâ€”
And sapped the sapling of its health (though still it prospered of a kind).
Then came the Bishop Barnaby and Stinkfly Deacon forth to feed,
And sanguinary sermons spoke with lurid liturgy and creed.
And so, by priestcraftâ€™s gory glut, their doctrine inadvertently
Restored the tree to verdant form, though only temporarily.
Then from across the crackÃ¨d desert came the Pissâ€™myre army, strongâ€”
The â€˜nighted nibelungian host marched one-by-one as â€˜counts the song.
And up the sapling, up they marched (still one-by-one-by-one) until
With formic might the pissant host subdued the lesser peasantsâ€™ will.
The dreaded deacons then received the doctrine they themselves had taught.
The bloody bishops banished were, to starve to death for all they wot.
And in their place the Pissâ€™myre lords set up a new society;
A kingdom grand, a great machine of order and efficiency:
â€œDivide, assign, to each allot a place, a part, a role to play;
To each his branch, his twig, his leaf, an overseer to obey.
Revoke their freedom every whit, yet to their vice impose no let:
To cultivate and harvest more their sweet, mellifâ€™rous excrement.â€
And gladly, gladly did submit the chattel to their slavery,
Contented only to be free to wallow in debauchery.
So nurtured by their overlords the lechâ€™rous population waxed,
And â€˜neath the load of sponsored sin the aspen saplingâ€™s blood was taxed.
Through sun-scorched day and dark new moon, the kingdom throve thus for a spell,
And still the tree, all wan the leaves, drew strength from rootâ€™s deep, clonal well.
â€˜Till on a night an august storm with thundâ€™rous wind â€˜rose from the west;
The trees all danced â€˜fore Godâ€™s great breath; from each its wrath obeisance wrestâ€™.
The scent of dawn hung oâ€™re the earth, while sunâ€™s ascent revoked the night,
And lo, what new apocalypse dispensed now was by mourning light?
The jagged edge of xylem cracked; the leaves pressed wet against the ground;
Behold! The Kingdom down is cast! Itâ€™s unseen canker now is found!
There! bored by pissants through the pith, an hidden tunnel had been wrought
Up through the trunk, through which the yield of sin-crop might be swiftly brought!
And compromisÃ¨d thus the constitution of the saplingâ€™s core,
The aspen could not then endure the storm and tribulation sore.
To evâ€™ry kingdom, vast or microscopic, certain laws are laid,
And exhortations, prophesies, and types and shadows in them played.
And so a warning sign is raised to kingdoms great and persons small:
Beware the taste of honeydew, lest thou like Pissâ€™myre also fall.
For helpful notes on this poem’s content, go here.
J. Max Wilson’s personal blog, Sixteen Small Stones, may be found here.