Sunday Poem: A Riddle

The Professor loved to laugh.

Social propriety piqued him.

Practiced in the Grand Art of Comedy,

he was an untiring scoffer; an assailant on the dismal.


He knew the Acacacademy feared scandal

and that they took him for a fool.

Didn’t care. He made a little joke

just the same.


The Fool (for that is what they called him)

convulsed. And the Onlookers,

stupefied – some bored,

sent him before a tribunal.


He began his defense

the only way he knew –

with a hilarious disputation –

swinging from the chandeliers.


That’s how it was. A small guffaw

and the primal impulse gave way

until the whole court shook with glorious laughter –

and stopped. Stopped dead.


Out of the corner of his eye – gargoyles,

snide grimacing. Devils’ rebuffs. That was all.

Just smirks. In cold, dry stone.

Otherwise – nothing. Not a peep.


And so on,

until the dark Powers and the Principalities,

railing in tongues against the Glorious Hecklers,

gaffed You-know-who. Burlesque-style.


They railed on and on. Blathering mojo,

railing and shaking –

and with feeling – so much feeling.

A tide of antediluvian contagion.


Then they all went home,

Watched TV, ate their suppers,

munching and gulping

through the trials of Mordecai.


The Professor rent his garments

and howled out the window a litany

of inspired refutations against

a cacacacaphony of solecisms.


Like Gandhi, he went on a hunger strike.

He requested some reading material –

The Book of Esther and the one about Job.

They hadn’t heard of either.


So, he was left to meditate on the mystical eroticism of power.


No one understood

his final act of martyrdom –

tooth-picking worms

from the jailer’s teeth.


He will have perished by now

from hunger or laughter,

with this riddle on his lips:

Who is the angel in armour?