A Munificent Travesty
(after the style of Robert Browning's "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came")

No doubt, he lied because he simply could,
This pampered prince of privilege posing proud
Who found a giant's stick and waved it loud,
Convinced of what he thought he understood:
That power exercised sells its own good,
Not just extorts from those whom it has cowed.

His cynic courtiers this of him knew,
As well as how to pander to his pride:
The deadly sin they labored long to hide;
The useful flaw exploited by a few;
The narrow, stubborn path to which he'd hew
Once faulty choices led him to decide.

Child Dubya's regent read him like a book:
A graphic comic illustrated clear
That masked the jaded dauphin's inner fear
Of having to compete for what he took
Instead of simply gaining by a look
Rehearsed until it numbed the eye and ear.

Yet soon the longed-for opportunity
Appeared, as suicidal bombers struck.
So Dubya quickly seized upon his luck,
Transcending negligent inanity,
Compounding irresponsibility
With crime -- to profit as he passed the buck.

Upon a building's rubble, then, he stood
And set a megaphone before his lips
To send a message in the form of quips
Addressed to those who did his land no good.
He would, he swore, avenge the neighborhood
On those who took advantage of his slips.

He maybe thought that he would strike some fear
Into the perpetrators dead below:
Some corpses burnt to cinders, smoking slow,
Whom one would think could hardly see or hear
His threats to kill someone that they held dear:
Identities that he could never know.

Yet, still, the ones who did the awful deed
Had Saudi friends and well-connected, too,
Who from the coop straightforward homeward flew.
No questions asked of those whom Dubya freed.
A bull-horn set to mouth with all mad speed:
"This child will get Saddam Hussein," he blew.

The child apprentice knight-errant set out
To prove his mettle in a grand Crusade
While posing boldly, stern and unafraid.
Advice from wiser men he chose to flout.
Believing in a "higher" father's clout,
His earthly dad's renown he soon unmade.

In thrall to visions fed him in the dark
By sycophants who whispered in his ear,
He thought himself the point upon a spear
Embarked upon an epic Sunday lark,
Deployed to vanquish picnics in the park.
On cakewalks such as this, what fraud felt fear?

Somehow, he'd got his hands upon a toy:
A power dark and dangerous to flaunt,
But even worse if loosed upon a jaunt;
A game of chance played by a little boy.
He threw the deadly dice, consumed in joy.
Both enemies and friends he chose to taunt.

Whatever words he spoke, the press would buy.
Although not worth the ink and paper cost,
Whatever thoughts he gained he quickly lost.
His "mind" as evanescent as a sigh,
The word came down from editors on high:
"Portray him as the dew and not the frost."

So, unexamined outside or within
Child Dubya took to walking while asleep.
Commander of his clueless castle keep,
He sallied forth, his conquest to begin.
With trumpet fanfare urging him to win,
He rode up to a chasm wide and deep.

This great depression had an entry sign
Beside which carving sat a lonely wretch,
Who cautioned that an act of faith would stretch
Good fortune past its outer limit line.
Advising reason rather less malign,
The wraith read warnings scribed into the etch:

"A child unto the darkened power came
Unbidden but attracted nonetheless;
Too innocent of strife to bear the stress;
Too inexperienced to know the game;
Who entered with excuses long and lame;
And smelled some blood — of whom he could not guess."

There at decision's fork, Child Dubya strayed.
He ridiculed the wretch who said "Go back!
Or turn aside for knowledge that you lack,
Or else prepare to find yourself betrayed
Into those traps for you that Fate's arrayed:
Too late retreat; too early to attack."

Child Dubya to the crippled beggar lied
With every word that in his mouth congealed.
Yet in the wretch's glance he saw revealed
Bravado's smiling lips now grinning wide,
Reflecting back at him a taunting snide
That showed what he had from himself concealed.

What opportunity lay here at hand!
A crime to craft for Error's erstwhile elf.
No weaponry not stocked upon the shelf;
No army not awaiting his command;
No chance of any needed reprimand;
The Order thus got orders from itself.

In all the world he had no puerile peer.
No younger child or older fool compared.
No losing prospect loomed, and so he dared
To sail -- without a star by which to steer
Aboard, a blind Parsee to serve as seer --
With fluttered sails and shivered timbers bared.

The sun came up just so his eyes could see,
But then went down for feeling hardly used.
In black of day he saw with circuits fused;
No breakers tripped, and so the amps ran free,
Which boiled his brain into a fricassee:
Stewed meat cut small like those whom he abused.

The night came on so he could get more rest,
Still feeling tired from all his daytime naps.
Untroubled by his military flaps,
With all the answers, still he failed the test,
Despite all that his "higher" father blessed:
Like deadbeat sons who lose at cards and craps.

With sunrise and with sundown impotent
To signal "charge" or sound a wise retreat,
He lost a victory but won defeat
The moment he decided to relent
To every wastrel instinct that he spent
By pouring gas on flames to make more heat.

The earth and sky and waters gathered 'round
To cheer him on, as even turnips bled,
From gruesome glimpses of the gore ahead.
No warp or woof to weave a fabric sound,
His artless tapestry fell to the ground,
Designed by Dubya's "thought" that had no thread.

"Now smite Saddam Hussein!" he heard a voice
From somewhere undisclosed yet nearby still;
"And then upon his folk impose our will!
Call this "democracy" and offer choice:
A Cadillac, Mercedes, or Rolls Royce?
To those who send the others off to kill."

"Those tolling bells that signal the alarm?
Pay them no mind for what do others know
Who never had the chance this much to blow,
Or millions such as we can bring to harm,
Or billions we can squander on a farm
That never any profit has to show!"

"Like Ishmael and Queequeg on the town
We have no cause to pay them any heed,
These Tom O'Bedlams out to score some feed.
These crippled, mad Elijahs always frown
And warn us that with Ahab we might drown.
Just syndrome-selling sailors gone to seed."

So down into the murky gloom he slid
Ignoring veterans who'd made the march
Who pointed to a cave door not an arch;
Who saw the trashcan rather than its lid;
Who knew the "bad guys" hadn't run but hid;
Who'd seen their friends laid out as stiff as starch.

Yet childish Dubya sought a holy grail,
Which he had heard lay free for him to find;
But which instead made him its grist to grind.
So he "decided" he would flop and flail
While "bad guys" poured some salt upon his tail,
Which left him flightless, caged in his own bind.

At any noble quest, he'd not succeed.
Valhalla's maids pick others from the field
Who fought the losing fight but did not yield
As much as him who gave in to his need
To mouth a motto, making it a screed,
Employing symbol soldiers as his shield.

Behind the sacred aegis of the troops
Whose nameless features hid for him his face,
He found that they'd reserved for him a place:
An off-road sanctuary, circling loops:
A Mr. Toad's Wild Ride through circus hoops,
Where Dubya exercised but left no trace.

So as the wars he started fiercely blazed
He grew more insignificant each day.
As his incompetence came into play,
When seen in public forums badly dazed,
He seemed outright and frankly simply crazed.
His bafflement loomed large and on display.

He kept insisting that he held the reins.
No power had, he said, fell from his grasp.
And yet events could only make one gasp
To witness all the petty, paltry pains
He took pretending that he felt no strains
As others tried to save him in their clasp.

The bugle of the cavalry he heard
Sent on a mission, his bare ass to save.
Yet this would not relieve but just deprave.
Humiliating help has never cured
A drowning feline rescued by a bird
Who'd rule in Hell before be Heaven's slave.

Content with thoughts of predecessors who
In death long since had earned a fair regard,
No matter how he trashed the playground yard,
Child Dubya just supposed that he would, too;
And won with his wild antics no canard
Just Truth which will forever turn the screw.

He'd sought a vast dark tower to accost
Whose terrors he proposed to vanquish quick
With slogans from which he could have his pick.
In nightmare tempests soon he turned and tossed
Urged on to more mistakes by one he bossed
Left only with more endless wounds to lick.

A travesty of such munificence!
So generous in its monstrosity!
A heaping helping of calamity;
Betrayal of a trusting innocence;
Converted now to just incontinence,
The duped now see their own stupidity.

Now who hurts worse: the liar or his sap?
As those fooled many times much more than once
Have now to face the corner as a dunce
And sit upon a stool with clownish cap
While knowing who has fed them worthless crap
And will again, as do all lying runts.

For who has cleaned the leopard of his spots?
Why would success at lying make it cease?
No charges filed? No prisoner release!
Why think of spurting blood that never clots?
Or any corpse that in its shroud now rots?
Who now will dare demand a chance for peace?

Child Dubya to the Dark Power came and said:
"At last, I can command, as did my peers
Who lived in former times through scorn and jeers,
Yet still achieved renown once safely dead."
(This "thought," which echoed in his empty head,
Owed less to thinking than to coke and beers.)

A bull-horn to his lips, Child Dubya blows
Yet no sound comes from out the tiny part,
For he blows backwards, from the end to start,
"Accomplishing" too fast what later shows
As failure timeless as the tide that flows
Then ebbs, exposing reefs that cut and smart.

Yet undismayed, this lame-duck churlish kid
Pretends to not have screwed-up for all time
Not just the language, but performance-mime;
As nothing can obscure the things he did,
No words or gestures ever can outbid
The final verdict on his life's bad rhyme.

The ogre in his tower has a name:
The darkling lust for power that compels
A crass and callow clod whose essence smells:
A feckless fraud who seeks a shallow fame
Through hawking snake-oil war for "reasons" lame
Because, among his countrymen, it sells.

From horrid children's rhymes, the mind adrift
Recalls the ogre's word, "fie, foh, and fum;"
While Dubya stammers on: "ah, er, uh, um,"
The blood of "Coalition" men is sniffed --
And women's, too, which leaves their loved-ones miffed
At stinking gas from Dubya's lips and bum.

Child Dubya to the Dark Power came and groaned
As something wicked tantalized his groin,
Reminding him to pilfer and purloin
The treasury for greedy friends who moaned
Until he from the future gladly loaned
Himself and them our children's payroll coin.

Thus Dubya robbed the future for today
And placed the land in hock to foreign banks,
Who sought repayment, not just empty thanks,
When plans not laid at all soon went astray
And left "commander" much less fun to play
While billions squandered purchased only blanks.

Child Dubya to the Dark Power came and cried
As nothing good had come of all his waste;
That in the country's mouth he'd left a taste
Too foul and fetid for the source to hide
The tawdry trade of treason that he plied.
The likes of him few lands had ever faced.

The Dick and Dubya Duo much has blown.
They, for no reason, millions maimed and killed.
Their ignorance, they pridefully distilled
Into the dragon's teeth they've madly sown,
Which into crops of cruelty have grown,
Which leaves the ogre in his tower thrilled.

Child Dubya to the Dark Power came and went
He'd made a war on "bad" but lost the fight.
Since "evil" hypnotized him with its fright,
He baldly borrowed, then he badly spent.
Yet neither would he stop, much less repent;
His life, upon the world a needless blight.

Child Dubya to the Dark Power came and sighed,
A little disappointed at the end.
Yet not for him his hair-shirt suits to rend.
His planned procrastination cut-and-dried,
Now bought for him by those who for him died,
Still leaves him with more troops that he can send.

Child Dubya to the Dark Power pawned his soul
For vapid, venal vanity -- or less.
Yet this bad bargain caused him no distress,
Since "have-and-have-more" friends will grant parole
And pardon him forthwith for what he stole.
That he might ever pay, no fool would guess.

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2009