"The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
Owes nothing to thy blasts. ... but who comes here?"
-- Edgar in Shakespeare's King Lear

The Misfortune Teller
(after the traditional Mad Song Tom O'Bedlam)

You can wish and wildly wonder
How best might you receive it?
The tale that you tell, as it fits so well
In the end you won't believe it
I have got a shiny mirror
In which yourself will see you
Reflections that glide on the other side
From your right your left will free you

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
Any dime's worth you can offer
For you know it's true, all depends on you
Not the coin placed in the coffer

You have done some things you shouldn't
As any man will tell you
One look in the glass, it will come to pass
That you'll know what doom befell you
Have a look at your misfortune
The kind that never misses
A fortunate one who has come undone
Should have shunned Medusa’s kisses

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
For a penny or a nickel
As you know for true what they’ll do to you
Whom you’ve placed in such a pickle

If a crystal ball you've come for
You found the wrong location
The hole in the floor tells you what's in store
As the truth is my vocation
If it hurts, you've got it coming
Your karma you've acquired
From things that you did you have run and hid
But the weight has made you tired

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
Any phrase or any sentence
For you know for a fact, that it’s just an act
If you never seek repentance

In the coffin of your craving
You'll find the feast and famine
You'll know of its rot when the dirty spot
You exhume and then examine
In his bunker your Rasputin
Some “enemies” he picks on
As the proper price of a sacrifice
To the shrine of Richard Nixon

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
For a necessary breather
For you know that’s passed, what you can’t recast
Not for sale or purchase, either

In the ages three in number
The present, past, and future
The buddhas appear to dispel the fear
Of the surgeon and his suture
To remove the arrow promptly
And wisely stop infection
Beats knowing the source of the arrow's force
But requires some introspection

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
Look inside at clause and phrases
For your siren song has some spelling wrong
Like your plan to leave in “fazes”

Like the Japanese amnesia:
The seventh of December
Once out of Iraq, you will not look back
For you won't want to remember
Like in Southeast Asia also
You couldn't bear to lose it
Once lost, though, you found it was worthless ground
Now you wonder who would choose it

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
Any paragraph or sermon
For your “living room” you have used a “boom!”
Like the good and loyal German

It's begun to look a pattern
You first jump in then wallow
Once firing, you claim that you plan to aim
For the lesson you won't swallow
See the syndrome of your sickness
The symptoms of your sleeping
The signs of a boy who must have his toy
Or he'll throw a fit of weeping

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
For a lecture or a session
For a syndrome new you will need a crew
Dedicated to regression

See the lines that crease your forehead
The scalp that flakes and itches
See the rug that thins as your many sins
Come to nest inside your britches
Like the lice that crawl and vex you
The crabs they sideways skitter
While your albatross with its dead-weight loss
Makes a necklace with no glitter

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
Any disinfecting grammar
For some syntax good might impress the wood
Like a nail hit with a hammer

See the chicken hawks around you
That cluck and glare and lay eggs
Do they need a boost coming home to roost?
Is the question that this day begs
Like the lemmings you stampeded
The rats now jump ship faster
With your little pail you had better bail
Or you’ll sink in your disaster

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
Some connecting prepositions
For a “to” or a “from” or a “by” or an “at”
Should confirm your superstitions

Have I shown you this for nothing?
Has any concept sunk in?
Does your fluffy head like some doughy bread
Need a glass of milk to dunk in?
Would a hot bath make it better?
With rubber duckies floating
You could try your luck passing on the buck
To the ones now grimly gloating

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
For some schadenfreude smirking
For a “one last surge” won’t relieve the urge
Of the duties you like shirking

In the thrift store he’s a cast-off
An honest, worthless leaving:
A marginal man, ninety-nine-cent plan,
But he’s safe from need of thieving
Unlike connected cronies
This citizen you’ve squandered
Since he has no cash to inflate your stash
And no money has he laundered

Come stay for a time, for a word or a rhyme
For the crime in which you revel
Down in Dante’s Hell they’ve reserved a cell
On your very own tenth level

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2006