Chest of Jesters

Poetry by Rhys Hughes

Courtesy: Creative Commons
There is a chest in the cellar
with a broken lock
and a ticking comes from inside it
like a working clock.

So I throw it open
to find out what might be within,
but the noise is made
by little bells
on the caps and slippers
of men who look like elves
with pointed chins
and pointy ears, who have no fear
of me at all but laugh
and jump up like lines on a graph
that charts a sudden
interest in the arts
of the anonymous
populace in a highly cultured town.

They come back down,
those mediaeval clowns,
and land on the floor,
descend the stairs and prance
throughout the expanse
of my living room. What should I do?
My wife is coming home soon
and she has jester-phobia.
I don’t think she can cope
with parti-coloured harlequins
who caper, cavort and grin like loons.
     I don’t blame her!

I must capture them one by one,
I’ll use a butterfly net
and drag them kicking back upstairs,
deposit them in what was
their secret lair for untold generations,
slam the lid, ignore the lock,
weigh down the chest with a heavy rock
and keep them safe forevermore
in that hiding place.

The fact they escaped is a disgrace,
the chest in the attic is an heirloom,
passed down through my family
from father to son for centuries.
And knowing this, it occurs to me
that I can work out the identities
of these pesky pestering fellows.
Yes, it’s true, I’m forced to confess–
those jesters are my ancestors.

Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.




Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

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