. The Devil Comes to Buckingham from Legends of Liberty: Volume 2 One day as Britons cheered their sovereign’s sight, The devil crawled into his servant’s brain. He entered through the ear as a termite And caused poor George the Third to go insane. His Majesty’s gray matter had a tang— Dis nibbled reason’s overlooking terrace. The walls of speech fell next when yellow fangs Went chewing on the pars opercularis. Then recall’s fortress, breached with just a scamper, Flapped like a tent when Satan bit the hippocamper. It had a name: the Monarch’s Malady. But how’d it come about? “Bitter in soul When young—neurosis sapped morality,” Explained his former nanny. “No—the toll Of failure to secure his despotism Disturbed his humors,” said advisors. “Strife,” A duchess claimed, “was based in carnal schism: The strain of mating with his ugly wife.” “It was the blight of God!” (A priest’s causation.) Fact was, poor George went manic from an infestation. A glass observing Venus’ transit past The sun can err, and calculate the size Of that great gaseous anchor as more vast Than is its real command over the skies, Thus deepening the black that overtakes The solar system and its spinning daughters. A clock that pinpoints longitude can break And throw a ship off course towards unknown waters. So George’s mental compass cracked that day, Which gave his moral pendulum a wider sway. The king had been engrossed in a newspaper, Displaying to his subjects a rose ring Of diamond on a pearly hand. A caper, Then (must have been) struck George’s eye—a thing That couldn’t possibly have happened. What? A battle had been fought at Lexington! The news was like a knife to his dull wit. His head was stricken: a perplexing din— That pain again. So Satan saw his chance: He shriveled to a bug and put George in a trance. The snake that once had bitten Gilgamesh When he reached out for immortality And hissed at Eve to bite a wormless, fresh Red apple so she’d know reality, Had changed into an even lower creature To dangle different urges just as bad. Let’s ride, it whispered, to your legislature. “Who’s talking?” George looked round. “Am I muh-mad?” I’m just your conscience, said the bug. Don’t cower! Listen: invade America. Retain your power! “I’m going home,” George shouted. “Now get lost!” The carriage driver: “You alright milord?” “Yes,” said the King. “To Buckingham!” At last, He thought when they pulled in. He stumbled toward His garden, roamed through bushes like a maze With gardeners behind him—minotaurs Whose clippings scratched like claws; each echoed phrase Of gossip, nosed in roses, seemed like roars. Through the back door, George blundered in the kitchens And threw his baleful eyes on horrid apparitions. On all sides round him, one great furnace blazed. “Don’ come too close, me King—this oven’s ‘ot!” A spatul’ed cook nigh spittled cockney. Hazed George, spinning, tripped and fell; his right hand caught A bowl that flew up, scattering some spices That burned his eyes; bad omelets reeked of sulfur. He knocked over utensils (dark devices): One stabbed him in the liver like the vulture That tortured poor Prometheus. In gloom He wandered out, approaching the White Drawing Room. His blurry eyeballs, mired in mental fog, Saw molding walls grow black as Tartarus. A portrait painted of the Queen’s dead dog Tripled its head and barked like Cerberus. A sphinx sat perching, flapping wings (a harpsy- Chord with an open lid, each paw a leg). An eagle statue turned into a harpy. There, furnitured like centaurs, all in league, Five torsos saddled up in circled seating. George stepped into the room and bowed in cautious greeting. He sunk into a silver-cushioned couch Where his companions, to the left and right, Were next to him in power, though they slouched Slightly, away from windows, shunning light. The commanders from the naval docks. But changed. The fireplace logs lit up spontaneously. Cigar smoke curled with cloudy smiles. How Strange. The voice returned, extemporaneously: Come meet my dear old friends: trusted lieutenants. “Out of my head!” George yelled at portraits of descendants. Their marshal, tilting high his tricorne helm At the fourth planet, marred the flaming spear Of his cigar—Lord William Howe. “This realm Is in my charge, your Highness. Have no fear: To guard your kingdom will require five thousand Troopers—I’ll march to the Pacific Sea! Five thousand men, all armed with solemn vows and Promises—Providence deliver thee! Divine in right, you reign with God Almighty!” The King just stared. The voice: say something. George: “Alrighty?” Do better. Then the termite bit down hard On George’s Broca’s area, starting a flow Of words that galloped, an invading horde: “Oh Viscounts, Baronets and Earls below My velvet-thronéd powers: know that when Traitors will question my supremacy, I’ll not respond with fear. Think you these men, These angry victors in conspiracy, Who damned us in one skirmish, will o’erspill Our noble dike? Nay, lords: I’ll do them ill for ill.” George shook himself. “Sorry, wuh-what’d I say?” A second, Henry Clinton, spoke up next As fruit flies buzzed around his ripe young grey Wig: “Majesty, you’ve recently annexed Some Germans in the state of Hesse-Kassel. We could recruit them! Yes, why not? They’re all Just sitting in some ruined, messy castle!” As islanders, marooned, will bathe in a squall To toughen skin and give seashells a scrub, Clint scratched his piggish head, a pink Beelzebub. The third man, John Burgoyne—a dashing idol Of ladies, scourge of children he’d had ripped, Untimely, from used wombs he wouldn’t bridle In marriage (no Macduffs, these babes in crypts)— Raised up his horns: “There’s a majority Of loyalists who want to be in biz With Britain’s empire and authority, My Liege. Front lines are good for fodder.” His Bull-headed pride was matched by giant bollocks. His sense of sacrifice was worth a hundred Molochs. Next Charles Cornwallis, bearing fifty names— Governor, Lord Lieutenant, Marquess, Earl— Tried to outshine Jehovah’s divine claims In far campaigns that seized the eastern world: “Their rabble force, as yet, has no commanders. Distribute fighters, Sire, from all your spheres: Use Indians, Hibernians, highlanders— Professionals will best their volunteers.” In a uniform that rendered gazers starstruck, He topped this pantheon of generals like Marduk. Last, in the corner, stood Sir Banistre Tarleton’s legs, two pillars wrapped in snow- White breaches, mummified—two cannisters Provisioning his sprinting rations (though His preference was for riding with sharp spurs). His military skin of dark green wool Was crowned with a cap of raven-crested fur And curly ostrich-feather plume. His cool Gaze raided men’s impressions like a virus. This silent judge revived the justice of Osiris. George looked the Colonel over. “Does he talk?” “He’s quite loquacious—when you are about To die,” said Howe. “These men here, Highness—hawks Of war—all give you sound advice. A boat Can take us to America tonight!” The king observed a necklace around Howe: An iron chain with an orb of hematite Red quartz—a worthless jewel. Then George’s brow Broke in with throbbing pain to burglarize His clear conceptions. Leaning back, he closed his eyes. George lay there, prone upon the couch, in bulk A cannoned man-of-war, its monstrous keel Moored to the ocean floor to rest and sulk, Its slumbrous helmsman drooling on the wheel, Careless of how his anchor bumps a kraken That roars from the abyss, bringing small fame To hapless sailors when their families blacken Faces with veils to block the spraying foam And mourn its vanished ship, pulled down to sleep, Chained on a fiery lake (so George seemed) in the deep. Blue eyes, then, peered through darkness—a small hand Was reaching towards the king, as from a chasm. “Father!” George stretched his arm to grasp it, and— Wake up! (That voice again.) George had a spasm: “Octavius!” he cried as he shot upward. “Your Highness?” Howe was leaning. “Hmm?” “The war?” The tiny hand receded, the bond ruptured. “Wha—war?” The generals shot glances. “Your Orders to give the troops?” “Oh yes,” (voice doubtful). Antennae tickled George’s brain. Words spewed (a spoutful): “Go—yes, my faithful consorts! Swiftly—go! Deplete my treasury—take every coin! Subdue these rebels who would overthrow My kingdom! You three — Take a preliminary legion—five Thousand, you said? Cornwallis and his hound (that scary guy) will stay for now, help drive Men from the brothels, bars, and prisons—round The lowlifes up, enlist them in our fleet! Use every method—flex your muscles, spit deceit.” Plangent Plantagenets once planted nets To catch their fellow roses (white and red). So did these generals depart with threats To bleed their countrymen in days ahead. Nice job—you handled all that fairly well. We make a good team, yes? I’m glad I came. George (spinning, swinging fists): “Who in the hell Are you?” Who, what, or where—it’s all the same. Soft dinner bells rang out with silver shyness. Let’s eat! “Fine—don’t embarrass me.” That’s all you, Highness. . . Andrew Benson Brown has had poems and reviews published in a few journals. His epic-in-progress, Legends of Liberty, will chronicle the major events of the American Revolution if he lives to complete it. Though he writes history articles for American Essence magazine, he lists his primary occupation on official forms as ‘poet.’ He is, in other words, a vagabond.