Lay for the Day 9th
1932, Chicago: the birthday of Donald Rumsfeld. He was the 13th, and youngest
ever, US Secretary of State for Defense, in the administration of President
Ford (1975-77); and the 21st, and oldest ever, in the administration of
President ‘Dubya’ Bush (2001-06).
the way, while your Coke Zero or your Pepsi Max is going down, you might
sigh to yourself, “Ah, that sweet taste of Rumsfeld…”
He was instrumental in getting aspartame re-legalised in the 1980s, indeed
he could be said to have achieved it single-handed.)
poem was written in 1996.
king and his yes-men had one tower,
the queen and her ladies beside in theirs,
short paces separate.
Easy the commerce, over the smooth turf,
until one autumn of dwindled
bad news coming from the countrys corners,
and noise of dissent,
caused the king to think of stiffer defence.
Throw down the crenellated
top, he charged,
the fanciful crown of my consorts keep.
the stone that I need to build
from all its unnecessary turrets.
So round the hill with one
keep taller now
and one less tall, was built a curtain wall,
and moat to keep the men
of barons bent on usurping at bay,
while under the quickly-assembled
that capped the shorter tower now, the queen
her ladies-in-waiting sat
out of reach of the raindrops warping them.
Until one midnight with one
in which no language was discernible,
with one ahead,
the mob like a wreck-strewn tide assembled
and the kings command
was, Arm my engines
with the bulk of blocks from that neighbour pile;
the ladies be quartered here.
At battles end I shall build another.
But the queen disdained to
be taken in
or to lean on the alms of an equal.
the lee of this briar patch
three canvas sheets shall make me a castle;
The wind-driven rain shall
pour me my wine,
with the cold stars for candles and sconces,
brambles yield for bread and meat.
Of the sky I cannot be dispossessed.
So when in the one giants
fist the land
had round them, like the shell of a blown egg
frail fortress broke and fell in
and in massed the murder-minded many,
the gibbet was long where
they stretched the king
and all his chivalry, fine-fledged magpies,
the only ones spared the death
that crew of beggarwomen on the heath.
from Zeus’s Camera
Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar