In the neon castle,
The lowly villager stands in the light, when bidden,
Tears ready to leap out of wide, glassy eyes,
The kind you might expect to find on a panda,
Without a mate,
In a zoo, looking for food.
The King is in,
Posing as the sheriff of Nottingham, a humble civil servant
Revelling in the role of pantomime villain
Coolly appraising the hopeful, frightened creature before him.
As he waits, milking each second,
Perched on a throne,
Made from the frozen, glittering tears
Of hopelessly hopeful naïve youths
Cheered on by the credulous
Crowds gathered at the gates.
The drawbridge raised
To allow a poor gaze to stray
Where on day, it may.....
A crowd of a million scream and jeer, faces vermillion
Fully invested in the process.
Baying, for blood,
Jeering the judge and the judged,
Cheering for the one they love
Like so many sports fans at the sport stadium,
But this is serious.
“What does this mean to you?”
The Emporer asks blithely,
As if there could possibly be more than one answer.
“IT MEANS EVERYTHING, it’s allI’veeverwantedIjustwantitsoooomuch, pleeeaaaase…”
He looks levelly at the subject, and sighs.
The court jester, always in attendance,
Always with a look of concern, a showy arm
Around trembling, bare shoulders:
I just wish we could save all of them
(BUT WE CAN’T)
As if there could be any other way.
Another sacrificial lamb to parade, to bless
Before its throat is slit.
What a fantastic night’s entertainment.
The winner will be garlanded with praise,
Encrusted with jewels,
Lauded throughout the land;
Will re-join the baying crowd,
Or else be taken out the back
To be disposed of in a sanitary fashion,
Or perhaps recycled somehow.
Finally, the Sherriff speaks: “You’re through to the next round.”
And smiles malevolently
At the creature who now depends on him entirely.
And the crowd goes wild.