. . The time, the
place, the torture: O, enforce it! .. . .. .. . .. .. . .... .. last changes: August
R. S. Gwynn
IAGO TO HIS TORTURERS
Tighter, me boys! One half-twist on that screw
And the wee piggy'll pop like a green bean.
Tighter, I said. And if the bloody shoe
Won't fit, ah, make it fit. My foot, I mean.
Let me my tendons plink, boys, lovely boys.
Tune up the rack. I love it, every minute.
Enjoy me whilst you can, like kids with toys.
Remember, I won't have to face the Senate.
And when the Maiden's fired, while hoists and cranks
Pinwheel me like a flea-bit dog-day dog,
Maybe you'll get it, how I did it so
We'd come to this, who like my pleasure slow.
Say Emilia wasn't handy with the flog.
It's all in the wrist. For this relief, much thanks.
R. S. Gwynn
Absented from felicity a year
In the back room let by his maiden aunts,
He let his hair grow long and pierced one ear,
Staring at cards Reynaldo mailed from France.
The scenes which they depicted gave him pause.
Stranger than Pliny (he had flunked the course),
In violation of all natural laws
A lady copulated with a horse.
If such as that could be, how stale and flat
Would seem the stupid tale he'd sworn to write:
The spider nesting in the old king's hat,
The late appearance of the northern lights,
Simple adultery and the rancid stew
Which he'd passed on but cost the crown its life,
His fat friend's garter tangling with his shoe,
Pitching him forward on his letter-knife,
And worse, that senile windbag and his daughter,
The former shafted with a curtain rod,
The latter diving into six-inch water.
This was the stuff of tragedy? Dear God.
The memo came from Osric, now the Chief
Of Royal Information: Get to work!
Keep the thing scandalous, and keep it brief.
Action and jokes. Make everyone a jerk
Except, of course, King Fortinbras. Let him
(Deus ex machina) arrive in time
To get lard-ass's blessing. You can trim
Most of the facts. Put in some crime
To make us look legitimate. And need
I mention that you've missed your deadline--twice?
Next week. At latest. Then, as we agreed,
You'd best get out of town. Take my advice.
And so he sat there hours, thinking hard.
Paris? Why not? But he was tired and broke
And known by face to every border guard.
The truth was bad enough. This was a joke.
His skills, such as they were, lay in debating
Questions of ethics, and his style of prose
Would never keep the groundlings salivating
With prurient puns. He'd seen Lord Osric's shows.
But what was truth? Wasn't it, all things said,
Whatever the authorities deemed right?
The rest was silence, for the dead were dead.
Feeling much better, he began to write.
The first draft took two days. He hired a ghost,
Dictating while he packed and paced the floor.
By Friday he had made it to the coast,
Sunday, stood knocking at Reynaldo's door.
R. S. Gwynn
(With a first line taken from the tv listings)
A man is haunted by his father's ghost.
A boy and girl love while their families fight.
A Scottish king is murdered by his host.
Two couples get lost on a summer night.
A hunchback murders all who block his way.
A ruler's rivals plot against his life.
A fat man and a prince make rebels pay.
A noble Moor has doubts about his wife.
An English king decides to conquer France.
A duke learns that his best friend is a she.
A forest sets the scene for this romance.
An old man and his daughters disagree.
A Roman leader makes a big mistake.
A sexy queen is bitten by a snake.
R. S. Gwynn
with the author's permission from: R. S. Gwynn. The Drive-In. University of Missouri Press, 1986
other poems by R. S. Gwynn on this site:
"Horatio's Philosophy" from: R. S. Gwynn. No Word of Farewell: Selected Poems 1970-2000. Story Line Press, 2001 (Story Line Press [http://www.storylinepress.com/])
"Shakespearean Sonnet (With a first line taken from the tv listings)"
on other sites:
Thermopylae Ezine e-text of three more poems (The Great Fear / Untitled / The Simplification) [http://www.gloria-brame.com/glory/ezine3.htm#sam.htm]
on R. S. Gwynn: [http://www.ablemuse.com/v3/rsgwynn.htm]
Shakespeare in Europe
University of Basel, Switzerland
for suggestions, additions, dead links etc. contact
The time, the place, the torture: O, enforce it!
last changes: August