The Rap Canterbury Tales

by Baba Brinkman

As history teaches us, it happened to be That Theseus, the governor of Athens in Greece, Attacked and besieged, with wisdom and honour, The land of the Amazon women, and conquered, And wedded their Queen Ypolita; along with her Young sister Emilye, his plundered possessions, Theseus met them with a humble reception, And he let them come back with him, under protection From hundreds of weapons, to Athens and kept them. Upon his return to Greece, Theseus learned of these Awful and shameful dishonoured injustices Brought to the name of the monarch entrusted with Keeping the city of Thebes. In the dust with his Power obsolete in a coward’s defeat, He now was deceased and cast out in the streets, Where the hounds with their teeth would devour his meat. His widow, the queen, in her hour of need, Showered pleas on Theseus from down on her knees. So he proudly agreed to put the town under siege, And surrounded Thebes with all his men, And pounded the city’s walls, and when Those towers were downfallen, then His troops to dust demolished them. And when the brawl was ended he finally obtained And returned to the Thebian Queen, for her pains, The rest of her husband’s majestic remains. Deep in the wreckage the people were left with, Two knights were detected, well dressed and connected, By royal bloodlines, though it was expected They would be dead soon from the head-wounds inflicted. But Theseus ordered that they be protected, And sent them to Athens where they could be hidden, And by his decision, the two knights were given A prison to live in, though they were forbidden To step from within ‘til their ghosts had up-risen. The names of these knights, in plain language: Arcite and Palamon. Utterly thankless That they were not hanged with the rest of the vanquished, They were caged in a tower for ages to languish, And waste away hours and days with their anguish. Years pass, ‘til at last on a bright May morning, Emilye rose, as dawn was just forming, To walk in the garden, with flowers adorning Her head as a tribute to spring, and her singing, As soft as an angel’s, rose up and just happened To waft in a window and cause a distraction, And that’s when the passionate noise then up-rose To where Palamon paced, giving voice to his woes. “Woe is me, woe woe...” And then he sees her, “Whoah!” Palamon, struck to the quick by this vision, In his heart knew his lust to conflict his religion. I mean, she looked like a goddess, and he must be forgiven If he thought she was Venus and asked for deliverance, As he felt an up-surging of happiness in him, A hope was emerging that perhaps she would give him A premature evacuation from prison. Meanwhile, Arcite had noticed the cracks in His cousin’s demeanor and focus, and asked him: “Why are you looking so hopeless, what’s happened? What have you seen to provoke this reaction?” And Palamon sighed: “I’m choked with such passion For her that I see down below, yet I’m trapped in This prison, my station the lowest in Athens. Until I escape, I’ll have no satisfaction.” See Palamon had gazed, and had paid the price, And Arcite now bravely laid his eyes Amazed upon the maiden guise Of Emilye, and to his great surprise, She made him sigh, and feel as sore Inside as Palamon, and more. Arcite fell to the stone and swore: “This fresh beauty and peerless grace Has rescued me; it clears away The sorrow of this dreary place. If only she’d appear each day, I’d cheerfully stay here just to see her face.” Palamon’s answer was close to delirious: “Be clear with this, brother, are you joking or serious?” Choking on tears, his emotions were furious. Arcite just sneered at this like: “I would never say Anything as heavyweight as this merely in clever play.” Palamon felt his pleasure fade: “Well, then you have betrayed me, and openly broken Your oath to me, plainly by both of us spoken So faithfully, traded to pose as a token Of total devotion; we must put that above Any quarrel we have over matters of love. All we have is our blood, and that is a trust Rather tough to just patch up after it’s cut.” Arcite laughed as if touched, with a covered smirk: “In other words, since you loved her first, I’m supposed to pretend like it doesn’t hurt, And I’m not even allowed to covet her, When I’m the one who suffers worst. Why should I thirst while my brother flirts? It’s enough to reverse one’s trusted word.” Their hate and need were great indeed, And made them seethe impatiently, But destiny soon gave them leave Of one another’s company, When Arcite was released suddenly, 'Cause one of his friends did something To please Theseus who grudgingly agreed To let Arcite run free, But the pardon came with one decree That, once released from his country, If Arcite came within a hundred feet Of Athens, he’d soon be underneath The axe and be beheaded violently, So he returned to abide in Thebes. Now, try and see the irony. Palamon was left in the tyrant’s keep, With shackled hands and ironed feet, And every day his eyes could peek At Emilye, in all her vibrancy, While Arcite was unconfined, yet he Was not allowed inside the city Of Athens, And if he tried to sneak, Or slyly creep by, it’d be Like a deadly game of hide and seek, So Emilye was outside his reach. But it’s up to you to decide which of these Two knights’ bleak lives was the highest defeat.
For two long years in the city of Thebes Arcite remained, weeping piteously, Until he was finally ready to leave. And he looked in a mirror, and in it he could see That his face had been altered so hideously From grief that it seemed he had a deadly disease. He was so different to see that he wasn’t turned away When Arcite at last returned to stay In Athens, and was fast to learn the ways Of breaking his back for a servant’s wage, Making him act like an earnest page, And gradually he earned the praise Of everyone concerned, and made Sure his plans were firmly laid; For Emilye he yearned and prayed, But never said a word, afraid. Now, for seven long years, I aim to tell, How Palamon stayed, chained in his cell; This wretched prisoner remained to dwell In darkness, and felt the flames of hell, Tortured and stretched, in pain, until One fortunate night he came to fill His jailer’s drink with these strange pills So the guard became ill, since the dope was made From local opiates, and so he escaped. He was sorely afraid, but slowly he made His lonely way to a grove where he stayed Unexposed in the shade and laid low for a day. Arcite that morning made no delay, And rode out from court so he could pay Respect to the sport and frequent play That people seek in May, And he came by chance To aim his lance into those same high stands of trees, And began to complain on his hands and knees. And said, “I can’t believe I came from royalty, And my family’s name will be destroyed in me! Emilye’s to blame for spoiling me! She’s tempting me to shamefully toil and be My enemy’s page, and change my loyalty!” Palamon’s blood nearly boiled as he Crouched and listened joylessly To this pointless speech; so annoyed was he, That he jumped up and uncoiled to speak: “I hate to spoil the deceit you’ve created in court, And interrupt the life you betrayed me for, But this is what I have been waiting for: Waging war to decide who loves the lady more!” Arcite bared the blade of his sword, And gravely gave his brave retort: “Has love so clouded your perception, That without any sort of weapon You would dare come forth and step in To this place to make war and threaten?” But Arcite was bound by his high honour, To go back in to town, and provide armour For his opponent, who would choose the best, With clothes and food at his request, And then rest for the night, since those were his dues In the case of a feud, and his right, And Arcite well knew he could never refuse On the truth of his oath as a knight. Both awoke at first light and, the greetings refuted, They helped one another to stand and get suited, Like brothers and, swords distributed, They fought, ‘til their guts were entangled In knots, getting ruptured and mangled, ‘Til it got where they stood up to their ankles In pools of their blood, And they ought to’ve been thankful That Theseus, hunting as he was accustomed, Entered the grove and there came across them, With all of his women arranged in procession; Ypolita and Emilye were in his possession, And seeing them, bravely he pulled out his weapon, And rode safely forth on his horse to arrest them: He said “Drop your swords, on pain of death! You both will now be slain, unless I find out who’s to blame for this mess; Now give me the two of your names and confess!” Palamon, with what remained of his breath, Did his best to be plain and explain his distress: “I am Palamon, seeking your prison to flee, And this is my brother, my sworn enemy, Arcite, concealing his identity, Who swears he’s in love with the fair Emilye, Who I love as well, so there’s no remedy, As she tenderly watches your sword rending me; Since we both deserve condemned to be, Kill him first, and turn your sword then to me!” With wisdom, compassion, and great sympathy, Theseus answered: “This makes sense to me, And by your confession you must die instantly!” But the women began to cry and weep, As blood in front of their eyes did seep From the brothers’ wounds both wide and deep; They fell to pray beside his feet. “Have mercy, lord, upon us all!” The ladies whispered quietly, And when he heard their pious pleas, Duke Theseus felt his pride appeased, And forgave the knights their rivalry. So wise was he that he thus decreed They must be freed, which was agreed By all to be a just deed. Plus, the brothers’ lust to please, Theseus generously accorded That one of them would be awarded Emilye, once they had sorted Out the victor of this sordid Conflict, at the time afforded. The duel was set for one year hence, And each would bring for his defense A hundred knights to guard against His brother’s vengeance and dispense With justice, then home they went, And each, received with welcome, spent The year in Thebes, both well content.
While the knights were gone away, Theseus, to accommodate Their combat, paid uncommon wages To his most accomplished masons, Who patiently went on to make A theatre so strong and great, With marble carvings on the gate, That all who looked upon the place, Did so with an astonished face, So much that structure shone with grace, As did the Duke, whose honoured state Demanded that he dominate. Now, on the long awaited day That they’d agreed upon in May, Arcite and Palamon did make Their somber way there to exonerate Their honour and confront their fate. Early Palamon did wake that day, And went to pray and pay respects at The statue of Venus they’d erected, Standing in a temple decked with Likenesses of all the reckless Souls who love had misdirected. Here's Palamon’s prayer to Venus: “Venus, I’ve come to ask if we Might declare war on chastity! My love is near capacity, And Emilye just laughs at me. Let me posses her passively, Or let me die disastrously!” And at these fervent words he Was assured that she had heard his plea, For currently he was unnerved to see The statue of her stir to re- Assure him he deserved to be Unburdened, free of urgency, And as her faithful servant he Inferred from these occurrences he Was meant to be the first to see His Emilye no virgin be. Palamon returned with glee, So sure was he that worthy Venus Had averted the emergency. Emilye then went to see Diane and prayed, and gave some words to Try and save her maiden virtue. Here's Emilye’s prayer to Diana the goddess of chastity: “Diane, you know that I am wild; I have no wish to be defiled By the hand of man, or got with child, Therefore, I pray, be mild; Don’t let my honour be beguiled!” The altar fires burning, in plain English, At her pious yearning were extinguished. Emilye, unsinged, just stared with dread, As Diane reached out her hand, and there she bled Upon her servant’s weary head; The blood of virgins, cherry-red. “Let it now be clearly said, You will soon see your marriage bed!” In response to this rejection, Emilye asked a simple question: “Well then what good is your protection, If I fall prey to some erection?” This was indeed a harsh defeat For Emilye, both stark and bleak, But rather let me start to speak Of the brave-hearted Arcite, Who laid himself so artfully To pray for help at Mars’ feet. Here's Arcite’s prayer to Mars: “Strong God, in this degree, I know you know the mysteries Of love, and my sad history. In spite of all my misery, My love no pity gives to me; Therefore, if I am fit to be Your knight, grant me this victory!” At this, the statue ripped free From its foundations viciously, And said: “Since you give to me Such devotion, it’s agreed, Soon I shall grant this to thee!” Now the gods, who must be honest, Had in their wisdom justly promised Arcite, here perhaps the strongest, Triumph in the fight, along with Palamon, no doubt the fondest, True love, as we see in sonnets. I now shall tell you straight how on this Day in May it was accomplished. Theseus, who was provider Of the venue, and presider Over it, was seated higher, Where his Queen by all was seen, With Emilye beside her. Arcite, a worthy fighter, Attacked his brother like a tiger, And Palamon, alike a lion, With equal fierceness did defy him. The first, though not for lack of tryin’, Could no fatal blow get by him. But then, to Palamon’s poor luck, Arcite’s knight behind him snuck, And stuck a spear into his gut; Though far from mortal was the cut, It was enough; Arcite struck, And Palamon, too hurt to duck, Was knocked down, and dropped in shock Onto the rocky ground. Not a sound, Nor any talk was found among the crowd, ‘Til Theseus declared aloud: “Arcite is the victor proud, And Emilye, as I avowed, To thee shall now be well-endowed!” Arcite’s happiness exploded In him, and he rose and showed it, As above his foe he gloated, Crowed and boasted and show-boated, ‘Til the Gods were overloaded With his pride, and so they smote it; Arcite, with a blow demoted, Fell onto his dome and broke it. His sorrow overflowed there; dying, He pronounced his woes, where crying Showed he’d go with no denying That his soul was slowly rising. And he left, while still professing Love, and gave them both his blessing, While requesting Emilye to be accepting, Since he would in death be resting, Of Palamon, the next best thing. Then back his broken head he laid, And gave his final spoken praise: “Mercy, Emilye!” The gentle maid then in the ways Of Athens, set the corpse ablaze And scorched away the source that makes A mortal shape, and prayed his soul Its course through heaven’s portal take. In order to at least dispel The sorrow which in Greece did swell The moment that Arcite fell, Theseus released his will: “Why should his wife and cousin grieve? Arcite is gone, yet doesn’t he Deserve to see his love in thee, Alive, from up above, in peace? Thus Palamon and Emilye shall wed, if they my judgement heed!” And since his wishes carried weight The two, with kisses, married straight And Palamon, though very late, Did wear his bliss with a merry face, ‘Cause he could barely wait To take away her cherry state; And Emilye took care she made A loving wife, and rarely gave Advice and, looking fair, obeyed; And nothing more is there to say About this strange affair, good day!
Listen to this tune: it's about a rich man Licking a silver spoon, who lived in a mansion, And rented a room to this young scholar kid, Who'd been to the two most respected colleges For logic and philosophy; now he got scholarships, But he still lived in poverty due to the preposterous Cost of living; without a dollar he lived as an Astrologist And followed his dreams; his name was Nicholas, And when it came to women his game was limitless. The ladies he visited became libidinous When he played his instruments; he'd just lick his lips And sing a melody as sweet as licorice. His virility eclipsed the man he was living with, A rich, elderly fella whose name was John; Now his flame was gone, and still he'd married a young filly Who was really beyond his ability to satisfy, ‘Cause in the sack this guy was on disability. He was prone to senility, pride and jealousy; He slept with open eyes, terrified of infidelity. His wife brought humility to life; in the village she Liked to shop, wearing her husband's ring, With her cheeks painted up a slutty pink. Her name was Alison, and she had a naughty stink; Her mouth was said to be as sweet as bubbly drink, And if you saw her on the street, you'd probably think She was a hottie, and had the body of a mink. You'd probably think a lot of things, and start groveling, Especially if she dropped a wink, heart-softening, With flirting glances that often fling a person's senses Off the brink, and begin work against us. Now Nicholas waited for the right circumstances, And eventually he managed to catch her defenseless, And he reached beneath her skirt with perverted intentions. It was beneath her to stand such utter disrespect, And she refused this would-be lover's kiss with threats That she would scream bloody murder, and risk his neck. Though to him it seemed like just a twisted test, And Nicholas persisted until her lips were set, And dripping wet, as lips are quick to get If caressed into bliss by gifted breath, And Nicholas pressed her with his best Tricks, until at last she just said yes To the gist of his request for elicit sex, Except she explicitly told him this, direct She said: "My husband is jealous, as well as overzealous; He's a menace when it comes to me lookin' at other fellas; You can tell his love is hellish, so while this develops We need to keep it secret, so that he doesn't kill us!" Nicholas wasn't filled with fear; he was cool, He was like, "You think I've spent all these years at school Without preparing the tools to make married men fools? I'm aware of the rules; just watch the master at work!" And with these brash words, he patted her curves, Grabbed at her, kissed her, and had his last flirt, Before she gathered her skirts and went to mass at her church. Now this church had a clerk whose name was Absalon, A romantic, emasculate man who had this long Hair that was blond and brushed so that it shone. His back was not strong, but what he lacked in brawn, He made up with his passion when he played and practiced on His fiddle, dancing drunk at taverns 'til his cash was gone. Now it happened that Absalon's fancy chanced upon Alison, and he began to romance and fawn, And prance on her lawn, Panting fondly, chanting pansy songs, But her husband wasn't jealous; he would laugh, catching on, And ask, "What's wrong, honey, can't you hear Absalon, Prattling on?" And she would stretch and yawn: "He won't take no for an answer, John." So Absalon kept his pants on; his hopes were slim; He was a joke to them, and Alison hardly noticed him, ‘Cause her devotion went instead to Nicholas, Whose wits were spent in a wicked attempt To trick her husband into giving them A chance to get busy in original sin. Now, this is what Nicholas did to begin: He went to his bedroom on the top floor, And he stayed there with a locked door For three days, inquisitive knocks ignored, And he gazed at the stars, lost and absorbed, And he played with his astrology charts, And since John had no knowledge of these arts, When he broke in, he saw what he thought Was a man possessed, caught in a sleepwalk, And never suspected it was all a cheap fraud. He said: "Nicholas, what's wrong, have you lost your mind? You've been watching the skies for an awful long time, Clouding your eyes with astrological signs, This is not wise!" Nicholas thought of a lie that would leave John blind. He dropped to his knees and said, "You will not believe What I've seen with my astrology! In all honesty, It's a prophecy, a vision from God! Man's hypocrisy is really pissin' Him off, And makin’ a mockery of all the wisdom and love He's offering. John, this isn't a bluff! He's not pleased, and now it's His decision to flood The earth with rough seas, again, and drown the wicked in blood. “But you and your wife, plus me, will be lifted above The slaughter. Us three can just drift in a tub Until the waters recede and He's given it up. But we've gotta prepare, and I solemnly swear That God declared we’re supposed to hang this tub up in the air, At the top of the house, and when the flood gets there, We can cut the ropes and float out, with nothin' to fear!” Now this foolish man just threw his hands up in despair, Flustered and scared, and cried: "It just isn't fair!" But he had to put his trust in God's justice and care; He was thankful, at least, that his instructions were clear. He spent the day in his workshop, with dust in his hair, Building this tub; first he constructed it there, Then he dragged it to his house, and he lugged it upstairs, And suspended it so that it hung up in the air, And could be cut free if the “flood” should appear. Once he'd gotten prepared, John offered a prayer To comfort his spirit, and fell asleep in the tub, Exhausted, and there we'll leave him, above Where Nicholas and Alison conduct their secret love. Blushing, the two of them rushed to the very place John was usually tucked, and there they laid, And crudely made lust, and while the pair played In the night's dark shade, Absalon came, Beneath the window pane, calling Alison's name, With the flame of love alive in his brain, Which he tried to explain by describing his pain. He sighed, "The way you act is a crying shame! Forsaken and sad, I strive in vain, Wasting my breath on sacred pacts, Waiting patiently for you to pay them back!" Alison sat up, raging mad, And laughed in his face with disdainful wrath: "Take that ‘sacred pact’ heartbreak crap Away from this place, you disgraceful rat!" "But wait," she said, "I take it back; You can have a kiss, if you wish, but make it fast!" The night was slate-black as she raised the glass, And displayed her backside and waited, relaxed, As Absalon reached out his lips and gave it his best, And proudly kissed the middle of her naked ass. But something was weird: it tasted bad, And had a beard of long, rough hairs. Absalon's fears were given a nudge When Alison giggled and slammed the window shut. He didn't blow up, but he did hold a grudge. When he realized the ass-kiss was true, Absalon knew what he just had to do. He ran quickly to this blacksmith he knew, And asked if he'd do a favour, as a friend's requirement, Inquiring if he could borrow the man's branding iron, Which happened to be standing in the fire he was fanning Higher to get it heated. When he had what he needed, Absalon proceeded back to the scene at The mansion, where he'd been mistreated, And in his sweetest voice he pleaded: "Oh, ‘Lover Lips,’ it would be utter bliss If you could see fit to give me another kiss!" Above, Nicholas had gotten up to piss, And he muttered in a muffled whisper under his breath: "What a glutton for punishment this sucker is!" So he slid his butt out the window up to his hips, Sensing nothing amiss, with his grip to hold him steady, But Absalon couldn't guess where to strike, so instead he Cried, "Say something, Miss!" and Nicholas broke wind heavy, The sound thunderous, like a motor revving. For Absalon there was no forgetting; he knew this joke already, But this time he had his red-hot poker ready, And he reached overhead and scalded his ass badly. With the hole in his flesh expanding, Nicholas ran Through the house, cauterized, screaming, "Water! Water!" Cries of "water" started to rise up and surprised John, who thought his cries were because he saw the water rise When the flood arrived. Suddenly, he shot upright, And before he'd even got his eyes opened well, John reached out with his pocketknife, cut the rope, and fell From up on high, without a hope in hell, And broke his elbow when he smoked the windowsill. But the greatest shame of all was when the neighbours came To investigate the screams, ‘cause the others made it seem Like John was plain insane, raving about Noah, Roped up in a boat, waiting for the flood to show up. They all had a good laugh at these three sad saps: John with his fractured arm, flat on his back, And Absalon's kiss, smack dab in the crack, And Nicholas with the flesh of his ass scabbed black, And Alison sat back, relaxed, and laughed, The only one left with her rep intact, And that's the end of that, as a matter of fact!
This time we live in is a Rhyme Renaissance, And this history lesson is five minutes long; And if hiphop is bringin' it, fine, let's get it on, And consider it official when I finish this song. My goal is to redefine the whole history of rhyme, ‘Cause the only way to free the soul is to free the mind, And no wisdom as old as this should be confined To total mystery, so we’ll just read the signs And DaVinci codes, and try to see the science In this linguistically-composed pristine design. It goes deep – suppose we could just rewind To when we first rose to our feet and left the trees behind; We’d see tribes of bipedal australopithecines Trying to survive, as species divide and interbreed, Attending to basic needs, like safe places to sleep, Raising seeds and making sure they had things to eat, So they started solving problems by evolving language genes. It probably started from the need to follow wildebeest herds, Or the need to distinguish between weeds and herbs, Or from mimicking the mimicking screams of red and green birds. It’s a chicken/egg riddle: Which came first, Plain speech or verse? ‘Cause as long as there’s been words, There’s been awareness of relationships between words, And when rhymes connect them, new meanings emerge. See the history of languages has been researched By linguists and traced back to a singular birth, So the ability to speak rhythmically and sing works To intrinsically link every human being on this earth. This time we live in is a Rhyme Renaissance, And this history lesson is five minutes long; And if hiphop is bringin' it, fine, let's get it on, And consider it official when I finish this song. But I wonder what percent of what happens is meant to happen, ‘Cause in the genesis of rap, what has to be factored in Is that this chapter was invented by black men, And all human beings are descended from Africans Who spread across the map in every different direction, And adapted to every place under the sun, So their faces started changing as the race was run, Just as every language came from the same mother tongue, Since each one directly relates to another one. From the open plainsmen to the rainforest dwellers, Every people needed designated storytellers To pass on their culture orally from the elders, And rhythm and repetition and rhymes and refrains Allow performers to organize story lines in their brains, And memorize more kinds of important signs and names, And make changes based on the needs of each performance. Feats of endurance are needed to describe deeds of enormous Historical importance, like the Trojan/Greek war, And the horse used to breach the fortress; in the aforementioned Tradition of reciting, writing was a natural invention For kings to catalogue things, with practical intentions, And the offspring, of course, was the birth of the author, From Homer to Virgil to the immortal words of Chaucer, The father of modern verse and first formal border-crosser. This time we live in is a Rhyme Renaissance, And this history lesson is five minutes long; And if hiphop is bringin' it, fine, let's get it on, And consider it official when I finish this song. But the birth of the author was also the birth of the ego; Celebrity seems to bring the worst out of people, Especially with the invention of the printing press, Which instantly made poetry so much less intimate, ‘Cause suddenly poems were mostly written to be read Alone, instead of written to be said aloud to crowds of listening heads, And in just a few centuries, rhyme and rhythm were dead, And forty thousand years of lyricism were watered down, And exposed to careless prose, on mostly Modernist grounds, And poets found that the old supportive crowds were not around, But they hardly even noticed, ‘cause they were published and important now. But then recorded sound started with Thomas Edison, One of the most intelligent inventions there’s ever been, And ever since, a person’s words can be heard across the globe, And the emergence of the Rhyme Renaissance was possible. But it really started off in the Bronx in the seventies, When kids with limited means produced monster melodies. High Fidelity beats made their speech more compelling, When ghetto teens resurrected rhymes and storytelling, And used ancient wisdom as a system for rebelling. The rhythm was thrilling, swelling the competition, And millions of brilliant minds fought for the top positions, And people finally seem to be starting to sit up and listen, I’m just tryin’ to give ‘em a bit of a nudge with this composition. And the epilogue? Now it’s been about twenty-nine years Since hiphop first appeared and confirmed the worst fears Of the powers that be, ‘cause now it’s in every urban sphere, Assaulting virgin ears; it’s like a massive attack, ‘Cause every language on this planet can be adapted to rap. It’s like a gigantic amoeba that’s having a snack, A generation thinking vocally, acting locally, Speaking openly, and having an impact globally. This time we live in is a Rhyme Renaissance, And this history lesson is five minutes long; And if hiphop is bringin' it, fine, let's get it on, And consider it official when I finish this song. And it's on
My story begins at a bar, where three friends Drink cheap gin and party hard all weekend. These men were riot-starter types, Who spent the better part of their money on cards and dice, Livin' the life of loose women and vice, Pickin' fights, seduced by all seven different types Of sins, a feeding frenzy of Vengeance, Vanity, Lust, Greed and Envy. Devious energy left them half-insane, Laughing deranged like hyenas at their bastard games; As each glass was drained and each bet was placed, They set the pace and left space for their next mistakes, All excessive waste and drunken rambling, With eager hands trembling; eventually gambling Leads to panhandling, But that's the price You pay to cast the dice, and other appetites Pay the same sacrifice, while the false assumption Is they help us function, when really it's just a dungeon Of self-consumption. In other words, it's not worth it; This world is not perfect, but it gets worse if Flesh is the only god you worship. As mortal men you Need more than the sinews in your corpse to defend you. But let the story continue, the same as before, Where these three hard-core men drink at the bar. Someone came in the door and ordered a beer, And told a sad story they were sorry to hear; Choking on tears, he said, "Death is a thief! My friend was asleep and his breath just ceased. May he rest in peace, and never be stressed; I guess people ever need to be ready to meet Death!" And disrespectfully, the three inebriated rioters Proceeded to curse and debated the guy's words: "I've heard," stated the first, "Enough about Death! Every town is gripped in his clutches without rest. What is it about this foe that's so scary? Please, If an adversary bleeds and breathes the same air as me, I can bury it! See, fellas, what I'm tellin' You is: Death is a villain, and the rest is irrelevant, So let's go kill him!" When he'd said his piece, The rest agreed, and the three friends hit the streets, And went to seek their destiny, and provoke a confrontation, In a drunken rage, hoping Death would come and face them. Their intoxication made them sure of their purpose, And fed the infernal furnace of their courage, a kernel Nourished by these three murderous wretches in denial. Less than a mile into their quest to put Death on trial, They met this guy all wrapped in bandages, An old handicapped man, with disadvantages, And the three friends examined his bleeding flesh, And demanded he tell them how he was cheating death. Seeming perplexed, the old man responded with soft words, And said, "I walk the earth like a creature God has cursed! My lot is the worst and most desperate place to be; I pray faithfully every day for Death to take me, Waiting patiently, and someday he will arrive, But in the meantime, until I die, I'm still alive." In a burst of ill-advised pride, the first Of the three rioters replied, "This guy Is a spy, or worse! I guess Death is his master, And gives him everlasting life forever after, A benevolent benefactor, perhaps, to have protecting you, But nothing gets a confession faster than weapons do!" And stepping to this old man with mindless threats, They demanded he tell them where they could find Death. "Find Death?" laughed the old man, "Perhaps you will; He lives under that tree on that grassy hill." Ready to kill, with their jagged-edged daggers drawn, The three aggravated braggarts staggered up the lawn, And without dragging on while the story is told, Beneath the tree they found a bag filled with glorious gold. The hoard was more than forty-fold their wildest dreams, And they smiled like demons, hatching violent schemes, While the steam from their previous plan was dissipated; They were so fixated on the gold, it just abated, And the search for death was traded for work of greater urgency. Now the worst of the three had the first words to speak, And said, "Certainly it seems fortune gave us this gold To save us from having to work and slave in the cold, But fortune favours the bold, and to spend this treasure On endless pleasures, to begin we'd better Take preventative measures, ‘cause if the switch from poor to rich Is too disproportionate, then law-enforcement will get Suspicious how we afforded it, and then we'll pay the price, So let's sit tight and play this right: See, we'll wait 'til late at night, and if all is not lost, Under the cover of darkness we can haul this all off, But for now we'll draw straws, since we've got a lot of time, And one of us can run off and buy a bottle of wine.” The others thought the plot was fine, and trusted its wit, And the youngest among them drew the cut stick, And rushed to get booze so this could be celebrated, As the other two plotted and whispered while they waited. The worst delegated again and said, "Listen friend, Let's invent a way to get paid a greater dividend. In the end we can each have half this treasure, If we get our acts together now and take drastic measures." The other asked incredulously, "How can this be, When right now we're bound to split the treasure by three?" "Let's see," said the first with a savage laugh, "Just imagine the third man gets stabbed in the back. Now, I'm bad at maths, addition and subtraction, But don't we get to split the treasure in half then? You distract him when he comes back with the wine, And I'll make sure our young friend gets stabbed in the spine. The first attack is mine, then you back me up; Just slash his gut, and add the last cut To our friend's bad luck." And because of his greed, The other agreed to this covetous deed. By the trunk of this tree they waited to pounce, While the youngest of the three made his way into town, Weighted-down by the thought of a whole lotta gold, Which inaudibly caught ahold of him and gnawed at his soul, He wanted it so bad he could taste it; Any part of it shared was like a part of it wasted, And he harboured a hatred in his heart, and decided Never to let this precious treasure get divided, And guided by the shine of carnal greed, He went to buy the wine, and then to the pharmacy, And, sounding harmless, he asked for this black ointment That he'd seen used in the past as rat poison, Meaning to trap his boys into drinking tainted wine, While at the same time thinking, "The game is mine!" Another famous line that became his last words, 'Cause when he got back the others acted first, And stabbed him mercilessly with vicious blows, And since the kid was quick to give up the ghost, They proposed a victory toast to the crime, And both enjoyed a glass of the poisoned wine, And collapsed, going blind, in a fit of convulsions, Which halted their pulses and ultimately resulted in Their spirits' expulsions And because of their greed, They did indeed find Death under the tree. They did indeed find Death under the tree.
Back in the days of the dark ages, When King Arthur made his mark, and courageous Knights – with tight young pages – embarked On outrageous quests and fought for ladies’ hearts, The shady parts among the hills and knolls Were filled with fairies, elves and trolls, And dwarves were known to dwell in holes, And nymphs to succor willing souls. These thrilling folds, in time, emerged as Badly out of line with churches, Which cursed all fairy-kind and purged us, To cleanse us of our primal urges. To try and discourage us from growing tense, The hills were filled with “holy men,” And now women could lie alone, content Without the old incubi, only them. And so it went that from King Arthur’s court, A strong young warrior marched his horse, And through the woods he charted his course, And he met a young girl in the heart of the forest, And with heartless force, in less than a minute he Committed an act of criminal obscenity, And since there was no one else in the vicinity, No one prevented him from taking her virginity. This sinister deed was so repugnant, That the knight was thrown in the castle dungeon To await judgement, but what should be done with him? King Arthur favoured capital punishment, A tactic of governments that live in fear, But the Queen, Gwenevere, whispered in his ear: “My Lord, his remorse is not insincere; I suggest we let the poor kid live a year. In fact, give him here; let me deal with him.” And King Arthur granted her appeal, a decision That revealed he was a man of vision and real wisdom, That is, a husband able to still listen. And from his steel prison the knight was brought To the Queen, who said, “Boy, you’re in a tight spot. Your guilt is certain, but your life is not. Your head might head right to the chopping block, Or you might just walk, and get clemency, But only if you can tell me what women need. “Answer me what it is every woman’s tendency To want, and I’ll suspend sentencing. Now let your penance bring you some cheer; Come here again after one year, And then I want to hear from you some clear Response; now, I suggest you run, dear.” And Gwenevere gave him his walking papers, And the knight thanked her, and set off on this caper To save his life, and began to talk to his neighbours’ Wives, and got them to list off their favourites, Like a census taker; he took to the streets, And spent a year asking every woman he’d meet: “If you could have just one thing, what would it be?” But you wouldn’t believe the diversity; They just couldn’t agree; once asked, Some said this, and some said that. They said: confidence, compliments, comfort, class, Compassion, fashion, or for their passion to come back, And as the months passed, the knight realized That he would soon be deceased unless he arrived At a conclusion, and he badly needed to be advised, ‘Cause with all this confusion he could only theorize, And he wouldn’t be alive to end the debate; And after eleven months and twenty-six days, He still wasn’t sure what he intended to say, As he headed back to the court to be handed his fate, And what could stand in his way? On the road home, The knight ran into an ugly old crone, Whose face was so wrinkled he thought it had no bones, And as he passed, she heard a low moan And asked, “So alone, without any company? Something’s eating you, boy, anyone can see, But what could upset someone so young and sweet? It’s gonna be okay, son; you can come to me If you need comforting.” And the knight was so distressed, That he lowered his defenses and took a load off his chest, And wept, and told the oldest woman he’d met The whole messy story of his hopeless quest And the approach of his death, and when she got the gist Of his predicament, she said, “Promise me this: The next thing I ask for, you’ll honestly give, And I’ll tell you what the answer to your quandary is.” “As long as I live,” the knight frantically stressed, “I promise, if I can, I’ll grant your request!” And with that, she laid the man’s panic to rest, And taught him the bottom line, the way to answer best The standing question that had been on his mind: Like, “how in God’s name do you please womankind?” The knight had spent a year listening blind To opinions, and found all women differently inclined. But when his time was finally expired, Again the knight stood in the line of fire, Before the court and Queen, in their fine attire, And he said, “Strike me dead if you think I’m a liar; Women desire to have sovereignty Over their loves, and to have their husbands be Happy if wives live above them, free. Now, is there any woman here who doesn’t agree?” And everyone could see that the knight had it right, And he didn’t deserve to be sacrificed, And the Queen was about to give him back his life, When at that precise moment, that old nasty wife Who just last night was so happy to save him, She stood up and smiled with the face of a raisin, And said, “He just recited the answer I gave him, Now he owes me a favour, and I’m ready for payment!” And instead of evasion, the knight cheerfully Agreed, “Fair is fair, what kind of care do you need?” And she turned to the Queen and said, “Ooh, he’s very sweet, And I’ll get all the care I need when he marries me!” The knight stared in disbelief at the smiling face Of this tiny old granny of at least ninety-eight, Whose eye kept climbing his thighs in a slimy way, And he realized there was no line of escape. Though he still tried to beg, and barter and plead, And he offered the deed to his father’s property, And sobbed, “Take whatever you want, please; Impoverish me, just let my body go free!” But it was obvious she needed no persuading; She said, “Oh baby, you know I’m an old lady, Decades over eighty; there’s no way you can pay me Enough, now take me before I go crazy!” And since there was no debating, the knight refused to get Too upset, for fear he might lose his head, And that very same night the “I do’s” were said, And with the Queen’s blessing the two were wed, And went straight to their bed and began undressing, But when his manly flesh felt those wrinkled hands caressing, The knight decided he just couldn’t stand the rest, And he cried, “I can’t handle this; it’s scandalous!” And his wife grinned with lips like an empty cave, And asked, “Is this how all men behave On their wedding day, when their lives have been saved By their wives, and they’ve escaped knives with thin blades? Other knights have been brave when their freedom’s suspended, But I can see by your face that you believe I’ve offended You, though I never intended to; perhaps it can be mended; Just tell me what I did, and I’ll try to amend it.” “When this marriage is ended, then I think I’ll be happy!” Said the knight, “‘Cause you’re low-class, wrinkled and nasty, The type that would do anything to entrap me!” And she asked, “Do you really find these things distracting When we’re interacting?” “Definitely!” Said the knight, “How else would you expect it to be?” And she said, “Then all I ask is that you listen to me, And we’ll see if after you think differently. “You’ve given me two reasons why you can’t love me; You find me disgusting because I’m low-class and ugly; Well, as for low-class, you can’t rashly judge me; Class is just something that holds us back, and nothing Goes bad as fast as the souls of nobility, “Whose workloads leave them with gold, but no ability To show compassion, cash but no humility, “Besides, with the middle-class and upward-mobility, The only gentility left with any importance Proceeds from a person’s actions, not their fortunes, So no more ill-inform class distortions! “And as for the fact that I’m not exactly gorgeous, Perhaps you’re just gonna have to be grateful That you’re in a marriage that you’re actually able To trust, ‘cause I pretty much have to be faithful; But if you’d rather have me attractive, just say so, ‘Cause I can magically change to the shape of a blushing Young maid with a face that’s both graceful and lovely, But in that case you’ll never be able to trust me. Would you rather a sexy, disgracefully lusty, Insatiable slut, finding ways to annoy you, Who raises up your jealous rage to a boil, Or would you rather have me this age, and loyal?” But the knight couldn’t say which would make this enjoyable, And which would spoil the mood, and he sighed, “You are truly wise, my toothless bride; I think you should choose between the two sides, And I’ll make do with whatever you decide.” And as soon as the knight let his wife get control Of his life, and truly decided to let go, The next moment she changed from a gray, decrepit old Creature to a young lady with such incredible Features, the knight was speechless and stood in a trance, More deeply enchanted each time he took in a glance, And his wife saw his standing as stiff as a wooden lance, And said, “Few understand the union of woman and man; Common sense says we should be treated the same, But what’s really needed to keep people sane Is for men to treat women like queens with free domain. And as soon as you agreed to give me the reigns, It allowed me to change and become graceful and beautiful And young, and still remain faithful and dutiful, ‘Cause you’ll never make me behave in an unsuitable Way, now that you understand the undisputable Root of all happy relationships!” And with that she leaned forward and gave him a kiss, And the knight was bathed in a sense of weightlessness, And they lived out the rest of their days in bliss. The End
Retraction 01:18


released December 6, 2004


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Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Science rapper and inventor of several novel hip-hop variants. Canadian transplant to New York. Pathological optimist.

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