The King of Zard

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

The King of Zard is a fairytale about a pandemic, written in verse. It mocks the government’s response to Covid-19 in a humorous style. Social distancing, group-think, bureaucracy, face masks, dodgy science and government interference all get a bashing in this short, easy to read story.

Inspiration came from stories like The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift - stories which entertain both adults and children whilst highlighting the absurdities of human society. The story is set in an unspecific time and place but it has a European medieval feel to it.

The King of Zard had Bats disease.

He coughed and gasped for breath.

‘It’s just a wretched cold!’ he scoffed,

With one eye fixed on Death.

 

The heir apparent, young Prince Ocke

Sat with the King and prayed.

He’d no desire to fill his shoes,

As Prince he’d got it made.

 

Ocke surely was a patriot.

He loved the land of Zard.

The songs, the arts, the food, the wine

But kingship might be hard . . .

 

‘Dear God, your father’s dead!’ cried Snook,

‘The dreaded Bats again!

We must wage war upon this plague,

And end this nation’s pain.’

 

Cold hearted tyrants love to have

A personal crusade.

Such was the case with Poobah Snook,

The King of Zard’s chief aide.

 

And now Snook saw just two more steps

To reach his lifetime goal.

Step one: Spread fear throughout the land.

Step two: Take full control.

 

Some said that Bats meant certain death,

‘There’s nothing you can do.’

Yet others said, ‘It’s not that bad,

It’s not much worse than flu!’

 

So Snook set off from town to town,

To count up all the dead.

Five hundred here, a thousand there,

‘A plague, just like I said!’

 

It worried not the cunning Snook

Just how these people died.

‘Old age? Consumption? Syphilis?

It’s Bats disease,’ he lied.

 

He claimed mass graves were needed

but In fact that wasn’t true.

’Twas just to make folks petrified

That Bats would get them too.

 

Dead bodies piled in huge plague pits,

A grim and frightful sight.

Left open till the pits were full,

Foul stenches day and night.

 

King Ocke was now beside himself,

Such hell he could not face.

Snook gave a knowing smile and said,

‘Just trust in me, Your Grace.’

 

A curfew was announced at once,

To stop the spread of germs.

One trip a week to buy some food,

Those were the harsh new terms.

 

No rendezvous with those you love,

No hugs or shaking hands,

No school, no music, sport or beer,

Even church was banned.

 

‘Please let me see my dying mum!’

‘No, she must die alone.

Don’t be so selfish, my good man,

Turn round and go back home.’

 

A vibrant culture torn to shreds,

So desolate and sad.

One business then the next went bust.

These times were very bad.

 

The day of coronation came,

‘Some joy at last – hurrah!’

With all the Royals in safety masks,

The scene was quite bizarre.

 

‘Don’t stand too close together please.

Be careful!’ said the King.

‘Don’t talk too loud, it spreads the germs.

For Heaven’s sake, don’t sing!’

 

Snook was there to police the rules,

He loved that sort of thing.

He drew a circle round the throne,

Safe distance from the King.

 

The courtiers stepped up to the line,

Ocke waited for his crown.

The bishop stretched but could not reach.

The King looked like a clown!

 

With every week were ten new rules,

‘I’m baffled!’ people whined.

Now ghoulish masks to wear outdoors

‘Cover up or you’ll be fined!’

 

Snook was drunk with all his power,

At dissenters he just sneered.

King Ocke was really torn and sad,

Life seemed so very weird.

 

 ‘I know, I’ll ask the wise old sage,’

The King made up his mind.

He lived out in the deep, dark woods,

Alone and hard to find.

 

‘My finest scouts will track him down.

It may take days or weeks.’

Wild windy plains and harsh terrains,

High hills and mountain peaks.

 

So off they went with hope and pluck,

Facing danger with a smile.

The days turned into weeks and months,

Till they reached their thousandth mile.

 

A shabby, old, ramshackle hut,

They found it, who knows how?

‘Please let him be there,’ sighed the King,

As he mopped his weary brow.

 

King Ocke pushed back the creaky door,

 A cat meowed then fled.

No other signs of life in there.

The sage lay dead in bed.

 

‘This deadly plague it knows no bounds,

We’re all at risk, for sure.’

(Especially when you reach his age –

 One hundred years and four.)

 

All hope was gone, Ocke felt forlorn,

A lump formed in his throat.

‘But wait, what’s that beside the corpse?

There seems to be a note.’

 

The last words of a dying sage.

Could answers now be found?

He cleared his throat and read the note,

His brave scouts gathered round.

 

No doubt you’ll say I died of Bats.

That’s fine, perhaps it’s true.

What’s more important is this note

That I’ve prepared for you.

 

I tell a tale of days gone by.

It’s not been told that much,

But you may find some answers in

The legend of King Krutch . . .

 

A drought had struck. It lasted months,

The crops had all gone dry.

Starvation spread throughout the land,

Folks stared up to the sky.

 

The King’s top aides and scientists,

Were smart and knew so much,

‘We have a plan to make it rain,’

They proudly told King Krutch.

 

‘When thunder comes it shakes the clouds

And then the storms begin.

We’ll reach the skies and start the rain

By making a loud din.’

 

They raised a tower up to the clouds,

Miles high, an acre wide.

With spiral stairs to reach the top,

To build it, many died.

 

The army marched up to the top,

They beat the drums of war.

Dogs barked, cats snarled and buglers blew,

The skies began to roar.

 

Cacophonies from way up high,

The clouds they really shook.

But not one little drop of rain

‘Let’s take another look . . .’

 

The King met with his aides again,

‘How do we fix this mess?’

‘Just brass it out, the rain will come

And then we’ll claim success.’

 

More beasts ascended, lions and wolves,

Then monks went up to chant.

Top heavy now with all that weight,

The tower began to slant.

 

Please let it rain soon,’ prayed the King,

‘Or even just a shower.’

And then it did one day, ‘Hooray!’

But lightning struck the tower.

 

 It came down fast, a hellish sight,

A barrage from up high.

Bricks and mortar, men and beasts

All falling from the sky.

 

Ten thousand crushed beneath the heap,

Men, women, children too.

They say that King Krutch died of shame,

Well I would, wouldn’t you?

 

This ghastly tale got buried deep,

Erased from history’s logs

But to this day, you hear folks say,

‘It’s raining cats and dogs.’

 

Aha, the penny’s dropped!’ cried Ocke.

He gave the sage a nod.

‘Some things one just cannot control.

I’m King, but I’m not God.’

 

But what could King Ocke tell folks now?

He knew they’d still be scared.

And Snook would keep on spreading fear

Until that snake was snared.

 

Though p’rhaps that wouldn’t be so long,

For Snook had been found out.

He’d been caught breaking his own rules,

His career was up the spout.

 

An angry mob went after him,

‘Plague spreader!’ they all raved.

They strung him up then threw him in-

To one of his mass graves.

 

Ocke seemed to hear his father’s voice,

‘Rule how you want to rule.

They’ll try and tell you what to do

But you cannot please them all.’

 

He scrapped the curfew there and then.

Draconian laws were dropped.

Some people cheered while others booed,

As Bats had not been stopped.

 

Though now at least there was a chance

To live and love again.

To work and play, to sing and dance,

To heal from all the pain.

 

Some may get sick and some may die,

That’s always been the way.

You can run from death but you cannot hide

And life is for today.

 


Submitted: November 14, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Andy Lambeth. All rights reserved.

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Comments

sakshi.s

this poem was so good! props to you for following a rhyming scheme and making the poem make sense at every line

Tue, December 1st, 2020 11:54am

Author
Reply

Thank you very much for your very kind feedback! It's so nice to have some encouragement.

Tue, December 1st, 2020 4:01am

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