The Baron’s fall from grace

Baron Kingsley was worried about the new forms of entertainment creeping up in his province. Laymen would paint their faces and babble on about the fallacies of the aristocracy. They called it a street play, but it was devoid of plot, humour and character development. It was incongruous drivel about plush couches and thrones and the ‘system’ (whatever that meant.) The Baron wouldn’t have minded if the performers spoke the highborn tongue while they did this. That would have added a burlesque charm to it, and the peasants would have never understood it. But these men spoke in the common tongue. They would talk and then bang cymbals or beat drums before speaking again. The worst part is that they dressed in rags. Who are these men, and how do they know how to incite the farmhands against their Lords? The Baron incredulously wondered. Isn’t learning reserved only for those of class? The Baron thought when he was annoyed. 

He didn’t want to take drastic measures because these actors had already become famous among the working class, but he knew he had to do something. If I kill them off, the peasants will revolt, but if I let them continue, who knows what the farmhands will do? The Baron wondered. Finally, after weeks of contemplation, the Baron came up with a plan. Now, some members of the nobility had displeased Kingsley. He had them under house arrest, not knowing what to do with them. He decided to dress them up as clowns and send them to the peasants as an alternate form of entertainment. He would make them flatter him using the common tongue while they danced and juggled. They would praise his deeds while they did cartwheels. He thought that this would both demean the traitors and delight the working class, making them realise that the Baron cared for them and that there was no ‘system’ to despise. Every man should and will know his place! The Baron delightedly thought while he sipped his wine.

The traitors were not happy, but they did as the Baron said. They wore motley and painted their faces white and stumbled and laughed and sang. “All hail the Baron! The wonderful, just, brilliant Baron! Ha, ha!” They yelled. They gave their performances while the street plays happened, and soon the farmhands flocked to them. They quit watching the plays altogether. The Baron squealed with pleasure. “I don’t think there is any man who would have handled the situation better. Do you?” he asked his wife repeatedly. 

The peasants, however, didn’t take kindly to this. “This cruel Lord makes the nobility dress up as clowns and fart and sing and dance. What will he do to us?” They asked each other. “Perhaps he’ll parade us naked after whipping our bottoms red!”

“We thought the street actors were idiots talking about imagined ‘systems.’ But there seems to be one in place – one of tyranny and sadism,” they said and decided to revolt. They defeated the Baron’s guards because of their number and paraded the nude Baron all across the district while people laughed and threw shit at him. Then they executed him and set up a ruling council consisting of the street actors who they deemed Elders and wise men. 

The pugilist

I announced my retirement today as a professional boxer. I won fifty fights and lost only four, and my manager patted me on the back, and said, “You should be proud of yourself, son. You owned this sport,” but I cried in the shower. I sobbed aloud and screamed, “What a tragedy! What a fucking waste!” 

Now, I never knocked anybody out, or hell even knocked them down. I have puny wrists for a heavyweight and punch like a toy soldier. I barely bruised my opponents. I just threw a few punches and prayed that they would help me gain a split-decision victory. I feared counter punches and hooks. I had a glass jaw. The four people who beat me made me question the meaning of existence while I saw stars before terrifying darkness settled in. It was scary as fuck. 

While the other heavyweights have eight-packs; I have a huge belly. I’d cry all the time when I was alone and help myself to pork chops and mashed potatoes. I also have skinny legs, and my back hurts all the time because of the stomach fat I carry. Fuck, I hate myself. My opponents would often stare me down with cocky grins or aggressive gnarls, and I’d shiver with sweat pooling on my forehead. Some would insult me, and I’d feel like running away from the stare down. Their breath, the crowd, and the weight of my belt made the atmosphere oppressive.  

I was never a good trash talker. My opponents would say things like: “On July 4th, I’m gonna knock your fat ass out.” And I’d say something stupid like: “I’d love to knock you out too!” The press would laugh. I didn’t bother reading the newspapers because they would only make me eat more. One opponent, in particular, was very intimidating. He knocked me out once and wouldn’t stop bragging about it. I was frightened of him. I spent nights dreading the rematch and watching porn. He showed up where I trained, and I quickly ran to the bathroom and hid in one of the stalls. It was high school all over again! 

I could barely lift, and I begged my trainers to go easy on me. I hated training sessions that lasted more than ten minutes. A lot of my fights didn’t happen when they were supposed to because of training injuries. And as much as I love procrastinating, I hated the hospital. The food there is terrible, and it only heightened my anxiety as the recovery date approached. The only thing good about the time spent there was reading the comic books they have. They have quite a collection! 

I wasn’t popular with the women either. I thought a celebrity could get any woman he wanted, but I had no such luck. I spent years looking for the one, and would often hire escorts, and date Gold-diggers because I was frustrated. I’ve bought them cars, jewels, and fashionable robes. In return, they’ve shared my bed. But I hardly ever got a full erection. I tried drinking and snorting cocaine, but I’d only puke all over the bed. So, in the end, I just gave up. 

I return home today as a three-time world champion. What a fucking tragedy! What a fucking waste of time!

The rejection letter

Dear Writer,

I’m afraid we have decided to reject your manuscript because it doesn’t feature a strong female protagonist. The narrative was good until Sasha decided to forgive the men who catcalled her. It then spiralled into some psychobabble about redemption and beauty. We were looking for a gruesome story about revenge. You must remember that the year is 2033 and that stories about finding ‘salvation’ are archaic and need purging from the literary canon.

We also found your plot about the throuple a little outdated since it featured two women and a man in a relationship. You must remember that the We Three Movement went viral two months ago with plenty of women complaining about the disadvantages of being in a throuple with another woman and a man. The man gets all the attention he doesn’t deserve in these relationships. We would have preferred a dominatrix with two submissive male partners.

Finally, your non-binary, post-gender, queer character Albert is old-fashioned and very stereotypical. The very name Albert makes him out to be a sleazy, suit-wearing, moustached, closeted gay man from the eighties. His sex scenes are full of anal penetration with no ear-play or coprophilia, and this only shows us that you’re nothing but a vanilla straight man, living in a world that has long surpassed you.

Regards,

The Transhuman

A letter to my stalker

What a miserable piece of work you are! Lurking in digital shadows and projecting your insecurities as putrid as bile on some wayfarer wishing his voice was heard. I don’t know what is more disconcerting? The fact that you think you know everything about me, or that you think all my lines reflect actuality or that you use someone you don’t even know as a target to pin your hatred on?

You present yourself as a crusader of the truth. You write odes to ‘karma’ and other cosmic imbalances when there is brokenness in your mind. You need help because it’s guilt that is making you act in nefarious ways. You refuse to acknowledge it, though. If portrayed as an android, you’d be one with wires sticking out, blue blood leaking, and processor damaged. I speak figuratively because perhaps you’re another poet and like climbing the slopes of metaphor, inhaling the fresh breeze of connections made. But then again, you use words in caustic ways, paying no heed to conscience because this perchance titillates you.

Another thing that bothers me is your lack of individual identity. You’re from Canada, and your name is probably Thomas or Alex, but you use a VPN and present yourself as a ‘tormented Japanese woman,’ or a collective of venom-spewing poets from the Netherlands. You say you’re a ‘we,’ when all you are is a discontented, fractured ‘i,’ role-playing on the internet. You might as well wear a dress while you’re at it.

Seek help before your behaviour spirals towards something more unlawful. You’ve already seduced several women online pretending to be a Knight in white. You’ve already proven yourself to be a predator, a fiend, a debauched lecher and a villain. You need help! It would help if you spoke to a therapist, took the necessary medication and built up your conscience and integrity.

I can only tell you this much. At the end of the day, if you persist in thinking that life is a game with no consequences, be my guest. I’ve made my share of mistakes. I’ve hurt people and troubled others. Who hasn’t? But I’ve learnt to respect people and value them. In the end, God will judge me for both my good and evil deeds. I certainly don’t need a profoundly flawed, character assassin masquerading as a messiah smearing shit all over my comments section.

The iCommode – a villanelle

I knew technology had gone too far,

beyond realms of redemption and return 

when Apple launched its first-gen iCommode.

We had brain chips and an electric car,

a luminescent angst-absorbing fern;

I knew technology had gone too far.

I did not frequent the revolving bar

on Titan with its space rum that will burn

when Apple launched its first-gen iCommode.

No, I had had enough of the bizarre!

Of zero gravity and alien urns, 

I knew technology had gone too far!

The world around though, could not get enough 

of intergalactic feeds with stomach churns

when Apple launched its first-gen iCommode.

Now men take shits while wired to a bell jar 

in which a microprocessor turns

because technology has gone too far

with Apple launching its first iCommode.

On cognition and truth

The human mind is an expert

at churning out fallacies, 

and creating myths like 

falsehoods about 

together-forever and 

living out life

in a quaint cottage in 

the hills, riding horses 

and watching the boats on

the lake fly past you, 

lies about the after-life,

it’ll say, it’s a void like 

the dark ocean 

but devoid of glowing

inhabitants where emptiness 

wins its war against the soul, 

untruths about the meaning

of life, it flavours this one 

with the purple salt of

absurdism, no meaning

is meaning, it’ll say, and 

purpose is transient, until 

you wonder what the point 

of it all is! Here it will madden 

you with some antinatalism 

and thoughts of suicide, 

it’ll argue better than a lawyer 

for the right to end yourself,

perhaps even throwing in 

supernaturalism, saying, 

it’s better to know partially 

and fade because to know 

reality, as it is, would destroy

you because it’s terrifying 

beyond imagination. But, 

I’m done listening to this 

storyteller and dwelling 

on its fabrications because 

there is Truth, and it’s my 

duty to seek it before the 

lamplight dims. Not pluralistic,

vegan-friendly, all-roads-lead-to-one

understanding of truth which 

is only bigotry wearing a mask 

of tolerance, but Truth that died

for me on a Cross.

Obscurity

Living in an apartment complex
in the middle of nowhere,
the sounds of construction
plaguing the seasons,
motes of dust flitting from
chair to chair on the balcony,
the piano untuned,
the clarinet unusable,
autumn softening everyone
with its ripeness, and
asphyxiating them with its
stench, hounds from hell
barring the way outside
with their feral appearance
and growls.

Latching onto
the melodies of the past
hoping a tune will last
forever, waiting for the empty
future, devoid of starlight
and twilight slowly
inching forward, clandestinely
like a thief, with its dagger
of destruction. I wanted more
than this; more than the
sound of the ceiling fan
and the flush of the toilet
downstairs being my only
companions.

I wanted life
but I projected my fears and
insecurities onto him until
his contours changed and his
eyes turned deep blue reflecting
nonchalance.

He shifted from
an ebullient fellow
willing to help me to a
cold, rough-bearded chap
who freezes everything he touches.
Now, with a stony heart, I know
nothing and doubt everything
and watch as his gaze turns
obsidian.

The Jazz Musicians

I’ve rented the upstairs of 

an old Victorian house, 

the sunlight washes over its

beiges and reds in the 

evening and makes it 

look like a sepia photograph

if you stood at the corner 

of the alleyway and stared 

for two minutes. Surreal 

and stunning, but also 

engaging you with its 

winsome charm, you can’t 

help but fall in love with it. 

I would too if it weren’t for 

those ‘jazz musicians’ living 

downstairs butchering Mehldau 

with a cleaver of horrid 

improvisation and off-beat 

rhythms. They call themselves 

the David Roots quartet although 

their bandleader is a wanker 

named Steve. Fuzzy clarinet 

& unharmonious piano; 

headache-inducing, off-tune 

double bass & raucous snare 

tapping; arpeggios flying off

into another dimension & 

cacophony rising to a 

crescendo. I’ve often 

questioned them about their

artistry and their goals to which

I’ve received responses like:

Our music is best understood 

by synesthetes who see

an omnium gatherum of  

notation and beat, and taste 

lavender when the cadence

accelerates. 

I wish they were sarcastic, 

but they tend to resort to 

lectures about ‘getting them,’ 

when quizzed further. 

Some solitude

As men crawl and sanitise 

the edges of their apartment

or spend their time trembling

when a cough echoes, the birds

vivaciously spring from tree to tree

like the notes of a bebop piece

skipping from bar to bar,

there isn’t a voyeur spying on them,

there isn’t the cacophony of traffic,

only deserted tarmac

paths in this city

known for its excitability

as disconcerting

as a merry-andrew’s

need to make a fool of himself.

Bildungsroman

The young prince sought the fairylands

with a wooden sword, and a symbol 

of his House on his now ragged gown.

Banished from his land, betrayed by his

uncle, and without his inheritance, 

he sought the help of the elder fairies 

whose tales of magical prowess and 

kindness had now become myth, 

he dined with beggars, found himself

enslaved and tortured by 

trolls and escaped 

with the aid of a thief 

with questionable morals.

He began to wonder if his quest 

was worth it, and thought about 

hiding his identity and spending 

the rest of his life with a farm girl.

But his people needed him, 

they wanted him to free them 

from the tyrannical usurper  

who took from them and gave 

nothing in return. And so, 

he reached the magical place 

and realised that it wasn’t the 

paradise the old books claimed 

it was. It was a land filled with 

immortal egos and unholy 

alliances. And as he spent time there 

vying for a position that he could use

to get what he needed, 

he questioned his morals.

Was he the noble prince who will 

return as a hero, or was he 

a blackguard himself?

He used treachery and deceit 

to bring the fairies under his control

and justified it by saying that 

it was for the greater good. 

He executed the thief because

his paranoia didn’t let him sleep. 

He slew dragons, brought an army  

home, waged war,

publicly flayed his uncle, 

married his cousin, sent his mute

daughter to a nunnery, established

secret police, and banished his 

twelve-year-old heir

who ended up on the same path 

he once took with a wooden sword.