The idylls of the fool – 5 sonnets and a coda.


Nothing is convenient, and there is never

A good time to be sacrificed to the gods

Of fame’s indifferent gluttony. As

The epitome of the discardable,

I’m not for recycling, a wrapper

For a sweet invented by pacifists,

Now owned by war-makers.

I cavort in a high-ceilinged vacuum,

A dying king’s court is barely ideal

For hijinks. Still, playful idolatries,

Sidelong glances, petty affairs

Pass the time between numb life

And a lavish funeral ceremony

That will bankrupt the next potentate.


This kingdom buries their entertainers

With the pharaoh, I’m date-stamped,

And due for a tomb without song.

Strumming my lyre, winking at a princess,

Few if any spy my misfortunes,

Being squat, secondary, an epiphenomenon.

You may think being a cut-up cut-rate

Trickster in motley is a good gig,

Complete with belled cap for a wig,

As I take innumerable swigs of mead,

Have little need for a new role,

But since my Ulysses lolls half-lifeless

On his carved marble throne

Like tyrant winter had come early to tie


The spring, let us sing of the decline

Of jolly times, and tropic climes,

For a moribund kingdom is un-droll.

Meanwhile, my gold pile is as much

Use as a eunuch in a queen-sized bed, how to

Buy back those days when I was fab?

The courtiers now are lean, drab, dull;

Useless work takes its toll. We

Should be sailing West, or wherever else

Risk sharpens its claws, seeking out laws

To test; we should be scaling crags

To perforate giant nests, to steal eggs

Golden, rare, unimaginably potent.

It is never too late to steal away,


When the tide is prepared to bear

The crew to illustrious vagabond days

Without bonded women, dreams or delay –

Days of riveted action, aroused with instant

Purpose, the rigor of having to do and be.

The having no time to think, just time to see

That what gets done is heroism defined.

Such journeying is uppermost in my mind

As I reflect on my liquidised, drifting, lord.

Oh, how I’d love to throw his piqued chains off,

And bundle him back onboard, for one final

Crazy feast at the high table of mythmaking seas!

Give me uncertain nights, unknown weeks,

To a long-expected peaked doom foretold,


Certain as school exams or witless lays.

The old bones of even magisterial kings creak,

But as his eyes meet mine over the cracked rim

Of his overwrought goblet, I can recognise

A signal, even now, to me, his first, best, bard –

Companion still, not gone are the glories –

His wink commands me to plan a last foray,

Hurrah for the escape that defeats death’s doldrums,

We both flee to a future, as panjandrums undulate

To the banging of godless, lazy, imponderable drums.

Only disturb the play! Tear the costumes hard!

Aside, pigeons! Conventional hours obey idiocy.

It is a long madness we eagles choose to assay.

Art’s more interesting if rules bend astray!


The sun is sinking nearby villainous behemoths,

A debatably divine abyss, fusing with an occult sigil

That glistens in half-light, lustrous chaos of beyond

What is purely earth-bound, further than testing oceans!


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