Peace With Horror

A leper knight rode into view
Astride his mangy steed
A harbinger of violence
A plague without a need
An apparition of discord
Upon which fear would feed

His unannounced arrival meant
He'd lost his leper's bell
And yet his ugly innocence
Could not conceal the smell
His good intentions only paved
Another road to Hell

With mace and lance and sword deployed
He vowed in peace to live
Through rotting lips he promised not
To take, but only give
He swore to only kill the ones
Whom he said shouldn't live

He did not speak the language and
He did not know the land
So why the healthy shrank from him
He could not understand
Why did they want the water when
He'd offered them the sand?

Committing to commitments he
Committed crimes galore
As steadfast in his loyalties
As any purchased whore
A mercenary madman like
His slogan: "Peace through War"

His slaying for salvation masked
An inner, grasping greed
A lust for living good and well
While looking past his deed
A dead man walking wakefully;
A graveyard gone to seed

He planned to leave in "phases," so
He said to those back home
Who'd heard some nasty rumors rife
From Babylon to Rome
Of murders in their name meant to
Exalt their sacred tome

But still he needed to "protect"
Some pilgrims on the road
Who for "protection" glumly paid
A portion of their load:
For this decaying derelict,
An object episode

When asked to give a summary
Of what he had achieved
He shifted to the future tense
The gains that he perceived
And spoke in the subjunctive mood
To those he had aggrieved

"The future life to come portends
More suffering than now.
Through me alone can you avoid
What I will disavow:
The promises I never made
While making, anyhow."

"I unsay things that I have said
And say I never did;
Then say them once again to pound
The meaning deeply hid,
Down where the lizard lives between
The ego and the id."

"I've given you catastrophe
And called it a success;
If you want other outcomes then
Step forward and confess
That you believed a pack of lies
With no strain, sweat, or stress."

"You know the meaning of my words
Lasts only just as long
As sound takes to decay in air
So that you take them wrong
If you assign significance
To my sly siren song."

"A 'propaganda catapult'
I've called myself, in fact;
A damning human document
Which I myself redact
At every opportunity
With no concern for tact."

"If you think what I've done before
Has caused me to repent
Or dream that I, in any way,
Might let up or relent
Then I've got wars for you to buy,
Or maybe just to rent."

"I've little time to live on earth,
So why should I reflect
Upon the dead and dying souls
Whose lives I've robbed and wrecked?
I care not if they hate, just that
They know to genuflect."

Thus did the ruin of a world
Continue in its curse;
The great man on his horse relieved
The faithful of their purse
And gave them bad to save them from
What they feared even worse

So onward to Jerusalem
He staggered as he slew
In train with sack and booty that
He only thought his due
For spreading freedom's germs among
The last surviving few

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2008