The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
In a desert kingdom where most were poor
A tramp arrived at a gate lugging a bag of tricks
“Permit me to amuse as I travel door to door,
My wit much sharper than a thousand pinpricks!”
No sooner had he entered, the spry Jester leapt
On the shoulders of a guard, as if riding a steed
With an agile somersault would he intercept
A lance-thrust by another, transformed to a reed
Cartwheeling, he unraveled colorful sashes
Traded turbans and tangled each oaf with a band
The visitor pinched noses and tugged mustaches
Swapping purses of coins for pouches of sand
Filching scimitars and daggers, he cleverly juggled
Then bowed at applause, leaving soldiers red-faced
Next he dropped their possessions and huggle-muggled
Skipping and hopping while these mad men chased
The Joker through a market — outfoxed to stumble
Like bumbling Jacks in pursuit of the card
Emile taunted and jeered but was forced to tumble
When a donkey dashed in front, the impact hard.
A deuce of enemies made, he paraded to the palace
Donned a cap with one bell, his best harlequin suit
Guests laughed at the sport; the sentries plotted malice
Lurking as he cavorted and played a flute
Pulled off feats of magic, mimicked and danced
Walked on hands, flipped and twirled
Wryly acted the fool and comically pranced
From the queen’s ear a very long scarf unfurled
Insults and japes went over the crowd
For he spoke and sang in a foreign tongue
Yet his antics delighted and Emile was allowed
To join the night’s feast, a dinner gong rung
He awoke behind bars, the butt of revenge
Hauled to jail as he snored, full of food and wine
Like a Roman sacrifice; an offering at Stonehenge
Invited to breakfast with a large feline —
Gazing raptly in a corner, a big African kitty
Outside the cage stood mocking guards, sour of tone
Who gestured to clang his bell, expressing no pity
And called the lion “Nuri” with whom he’d been thrown.
The pair proceeded to bedevil and irk his cellmate
Poking, provoking the beast, acting violent or crazy
Pointing, beckoning to serve Emile on a plate
As if urging to devour him and not be lazy
In vexation, a sentinel prodded the great cat
With a lengthy pole, crossly bullying, demanding
Goading to make a meal of a nimble acrobat . . .
The lion had been whipped, the cruelest branding
Mistreated and starved, he bore the scars gravely
Emile bowed his shaved head, a tiny bell swinging
Then met the lion’s stare, respectful yet bravely
“I am your servant.” The Jester’s heart wringing
Nuri lunged afoot, giving a deep-throated complaint
In haste, gleeful watchmen promised to return
Eager for a slaughter, not for the faint
They delivered a wily prisoner a lesson to learn
Doubtless toasting his “health” over cups of coffee
But astonishingly found the wrong survivor
Smugly sitting in the middle — a little show-offy
Implying he ate the lion — an adept conniver!
Chins hanging, the sentries heard a terrible growl
And whirled to discover a vindictive foe
A brawny King, his mane formed a beard and cowl
Wearing a scowl, unblinking, the lion let them know
His vanishing was an act and unsheathed lethal claws
Snarling, he pounced at soldiers and mangled both
Following the banquet, Nuri licked dripping jaws
Cleaned his blood-soaked front paws. A rumbled oath
Would bind him to Emile. The prankster slipped free
And they trekked to the gate, where the Jester distracted
Another set of guards, securing liberty
Side by side a duo journeyed, all debts transacted.
Fiction © Copyright Lori R. Lopez
Image courtesy of Marge Simon
More from Lori R. Lopez:
A collection of very unusual verse, ranging from wacky to dark to narrative. Lori R. Lopez writes her own way, whether poetry or prose. This book contains both in an odd yet artful balance.
Volume Two of the POETIC REFLECTIONS book series, THE QUEEN OF HATS is packed with craziness as well as eerie and thoughtful pieces. Chapters are framed by thirteen eccentric or brooding columns, followed by a rich array of additional content for each theme. Lori’s writing style is wildly original and evocative, providing much to think about in this sequel to KEEP THE HEART OF A CHILD. The print edition includes black-and-white illustrations done by the author.
THE QUEEN OF HATS received HONORABLE MENTION in Poetry from the 2015 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards and an HONORABLE MENTION from the 2014 Halloween Book Festival.
About the Artist, Marge Simon:
A writer-artist since the mid-1980’s, Marge Simon has illustrated numerous poetry collections for Sam’s Dot Publications/Alban Lake; as well as multiple print magazines. She illustrated covers and interiors of every issue of Niteblade (Rhonda Parrish, editor). Currently she illustrates for Lorelei Signal, Carol Hightshoe, editor. Check out her art galleries at www.margesimon.com
Marge is also one of the Ladies of Horror who writes for this challenge.