Victor Billot is a Dunedin writer. He is the author of the poetry collection The Sets (Otago University Press, 2020), and writes a weekly satirical Ode each Sunday for Newsroom.
The Bard on “Lancelot”
Good Sir Lancelot of Uffindell,
newly appointed to the Round Table,
rides in to the Bay of Despond
at the right hand of Baron Luxon.
The Baron proclaims his creed
as they ride through the lush kiwifruit orchards,
past grateful serfs toiling amongst the vines.
“We have pledged to do battle
with the rogues and vagabonds
and return the rule of law to the Queendom!”
saith the Baron.
“Damn’d straight,” replies Sir Lancelot fiercely,
casually lopping the head off a passing serf.
The Baron blinks, but says nothing.
They gallop up to another sleepy hollow
and the Baron speaks down from his great steed:
“Good tidings, humble folk!
I am now your Lord Protector.”
But lo! A small urchin scampers across the road
and Sir Lancelot gives chase, vorpal blade
swinging brightly in the afternoon sun. Snicker-snack!
“What ho!” chortles Lancelot,
“this remindeth me of my salad days
with the other Young Lords at the College of Kings!”
“Er,” says the Baron, with a flicker of unease,
“we are after all good Christian warriors!”
Then through the misty valley they ride.
“Hold on,” says the Baron, sniffing,
“this isn’t mist, it’s smoke.”
And there before them in the cosy nook
is the burning hamlet of Uffindell, well aflame,
surrounded by piles of dead townspeople,
smashed furniture and fouled toilets.
“Um,” says the Baron,
“I thought you were just going to tidy up
the rogues and vagabonds.”
“We need to get busy winning,” drones Lancelot
with a strange, glazed, zombie-like stare.
“I personally oversaw the spikings, loppings,
trial by fire, hot tongs, waterboarding,
rough and tumble, and the dangling of the first born
from the dizzying heights of the castle tower.”
The Baron looks up with a sense of foreboding at the tower
where the proud colours of the House of Uffindell fly:
a set of saucy lingerie claimed from a hapless maiden.
“Old chap,” says the Baron, shifting uncomfortably
in the saddle of his mighty stallion, Titanic,
“I admire your enthusiasm and noble intent,
but now you are a Knight of the Round Table:
and you must learn to torture serfs
through the policy process.”
But too late:
Sir Lancelot has spotted a small puppy
and is wandering over with a battle axe,
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