The Plight of Knights

What makes a man? What makes a knight?
What makes a lover’s heart alight?
Is pining naught but dreaming caught
From out the dewy cloak of night?
Where there is love, must there be vice
For one to shame and one to fight?
Must she be saved so he may claim
His right to her most glad invite?

A knight must have his damsel sweet,
A selection he will find replete.
She herself is yet a puzzle,
Claiming weakness, flexing muscle:
She’s stressing over her distress
By ripping her brocaded dress;
She’s claiming that her life’s a mess,
Whilst slaying needs to acquiesce.

Just beyond her lighted screen,
There sits a rumbling dragon, green.
His sleepy smoke puffs through her door,
For he’s abstained from growls or roars.
A docile beast-when ta’en to task,
The matter’s solved, no questions asked.
So being a gargantuan beast,
He’s found himself the widest street.

Intent on her, the knight is there,
His sword is ready, scabbard bare,
To do the deed, that which, to do,
Would be what makes a hero true.

But alas, alack!
It’s not the fright his pace does slack,
And not the chance of coming back.
What gives him pause is lack of jaws
At which he can direct his cause.
His sword was there, it sliced the air,
Prepared to save the maiden fair.
And now it drops, a hollow prop,
His ego popped, his conquest stopped.

At dawn of day, the maid did say,
To fawn and robin and blue jay:
‘I cannot ‘bide this Pinter play.
This dragon, then, must go away.’
She drew her pins, so sharp and thin,
(A gift from Bobby, they had been):
‘These once did hold my hair within,
And now shall pierce the dragon’s skin.’

Then throwing as she threw her darts,
She deftly pricked the dragon’s heart,
Her hair a flag of vict’ry sweet
(Because she used Garnier Fructis).
Throwing wide her tower door,
She found the local liquor store
To buy Korbel from the top shelf
Which she would use to toast herself.

But down below, the knight turned man,
Sheathed his sword, ungloved his hands,
And turned away to journey back
To reconsult his planned attack.
What must he do, now she is saved?
He only knew to brave and slay.
His teachers gave him sword and glove,
With which to earn a maiden’s love.

He did not know what trick of fate
Had left him such a sorry state.
His greatest virtue once had been
His means to oust the beast within.
Yet to his horror and his shame,
His maiden’s means were now the same.
She dealt with dragons same as he:
With swords and daggers, merrily.

What makes a man? What makes a knight?
What makes a lover’s heart alight?
If one must cry, and one must fight,
Perhaps the knight must say good night.

The Pin

There’s a pin in my pincushion.

It’s lost in the tomatoey flesh up to the small, silver hilt.
You might miss it if you weren’t careful, but
It’s safe inside the cushion, so you’ve no reason to fear.
Yet it does rather ruin the ruby red fabric;
Some aesthetic value is lost, I suppose …

From the pin in my pincushion.

I worried, at first, that stuffing might spill from the wound,
But the skin around the pin has toughened – a great relief.
There would be no greater embarrassment than to have
My stuffing on your fingers as you go about the world …
What would people think?

Of the pin in my pincushion.

It wasn’t your pin; you didn’t put it there,
You would take it out if you could, but the scar tissue …
I was ashamed at first. The flesh was so imperfect. The pin became
My pin: the silver dot so small, yet so glaring, and I’d been told
Damaged goods were no good.

But the pin in my pincushion …

You’ve shown me now that where I’ve been,
Or how I got that nasty pin,
Or who has cut me now and then,
Or what I think of other men
Are not what cushions hold within:

They are the pin in my pincushion.