Rumpelstiltskin Cycle

By | 1 December 2009

The smoke cleared, crawling
from the wreckage, the horned vizier
of forked tongue and stingray tail
fame was the last man standing,
he said he could spin straw into gold–
now he was king and his vizier could do
the dirty work–and called himself Plain Mister
the man who spins straw into gold
(though all we ever see are graphs and reports
the polity colludes and pretends to believe)
the ghosts of myths were on his side, the diggers,
the gold miners, the greatest sportsman
of them all, the cool heeled and well-to-do,
even Kylie's Battlers voted him.


Such was the magic in this man
his filthy lucre dance seduced us all
as he mocked the law, re-made history
and tradition in his image, so many
pretended not to see the cruel shadow,
the horns and tail, or hear flames crackling
behind his words and we shared an evil
dose that hardened all our hearts
into a bribe, we retreated to our castles
but loved the way the wicked one
spun straw into gold, the churlish man
attracted our souls, our chariots were powerful
so he took the chance and went to war
there'd be death and rubble, sure,


There'd be more straw to weave into gold.
One day two men climbed out of a collapsed
mine and the joy of two people
helped by other people spread;
suddenly, not caring about the gold
or the straw, the people called Rumpelstiltskin's
name just once and cast him out, and the demon
let go, shredded the evidence, corruption
swept under a carpet, with expeditiousness,
the gold dust settling in quiet homes.
There's a bolt of lightning the smoke clears:
revealing those bad moments
that held our hearts all those years
are batted clear by a gracious succession.


Demons are complicated like Russian dolls,
mysteries wrapped in enigma, a rustling of leaves
and whispers, the animals disturbed by sin–
while Rumpelstiltskin was in Plain Mister's skin,
a crueller demon lived within: the traitor, Ugolino,
who enjoyed his punishment below so much, so
into politics the devil let Ugolino's spirit go.
In his final hours before the shade fell
Ugolino ate his children, or perhaps they ate him
the records are not clear but we know
he started a war that ruined his city
to prolong his influence, and profit, oh
but that's another story–now


a new magic is installed in the palace–
what devils possess this new Plain Mister
who speaks in dot points and glory be
asks of himself most difficult riddles,
answers with confidence–joy is his dance
a one-man pas de deux where two make one
sweetly on television, the Moon and Sun
anoint him chief of hope and future,
so raise the cudgels! (Socrates was a soldier)
soothe the baser passions (devilishly
clever rhetoric), remember the Renaissance,
and the old green world is dying,
take us on a journey, tell us when we're good,
make us feel young and free, wink before lying.

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