Catapult Crisis

Your Excellency the King! Your Highness!
I’m so glad we could meet this afternoon,
Here in your sun-dappled chambers,
Surrounded by your exquisite tapestries,
Sipping on your excellent local spirits,
Reclining on your rose-hued silk pillows.

Greetings Emissary of the Emperor!
Thank you for agreeing to meet
And to discuss confidentially,
With the utmost frankness,
Matters of great importance
To both our realms.

On the contrary, Your Highness, I thank you!
It is my great honor
To be tasked by my Emperor
To bear this charge
And to meet with
Such a Distinguished Monarch.

Now let’s cut the bullshit, Emissary.
Know that you may not place your catapults
Anywhere near our boderlands,
Whether marked by rivers, seas,
Mountains, forests or valleys.

How refreshing, Your Highness!
Indeed, let’s “cut the bullshit,”
As you so colorfully put it.
Let’s not beat ’round the bush!
Let’s get down to brass tacks!
And your request is entirely reasonable.

“Reasonable,” Emissary? Of course it is,
But then why in God’s name
Do you scamper around your lands
Waving your sword in the air,
Threatening my kingdom
With unlimited destruction?

Your Highness, you must grasp that
Our threats are for our own people to hear.
We don’t mean it, surely you know that.
But we must have an enemy.
We’ve picked you.
We hope you’ll understand.

Indeed, We understand, Emissary.
But you don’t seem to understand
That our people take you seriously.
And they demand that We take you seriously.
So what do you expect Us to do?
You must back off.

Your Highness, it’s just as you say.
And we’d love to do as you ask.
But you see, we can’t stop menacing you.
If we do, our people will insist
The Emperor do something about
Our famines, our pandemics, our poverty.

That, I’m afraid, is your own problem, Emissary.
We will tolerate your actions no longer.
You have a fortnight to withdraw your catapults.
That should be ample time.
Our meeting is at an end.
Good day, Emissary.

Roger Stoll lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and has published articles, book reviews and political poetry in Black Agenda Report, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Internationalist 360, Jewschool, Marxism-Leninism Today, MintPress News, MRonline, New Verse News, Orinoco Tribune, Popular Resistance, Resumen Latinoamericano, San Francisco Examiner, and ZNet. Read other articles by Roger.