Lexicon for a Tyrant
By Teddy Robertson
You may wonder why I need a phrase book
he travels to us, after all—
unbidden on the screen.
He comes with simple words,
from happy times with little ones
Soon come the chants—
paroxytones of schoolyard taunts
And last the epithets,
engravers of memory (as bards knew well)
He tests each smear,
which slur will stick?
Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted
phrases from the word-hoard of a primitive.
Stumps of language, I decry them
but I am hooked,
respond in kind,
forego his title, proper name
For all his simple words
he is complex.
He forces me to search,
patrol a larger lexicon
seek the proper word for what I see,
I strain to choose the fit descriptor,
the truest word
confirm my understanding,
preserve what I have heard and seen.
Meantime the charlatan extends his arms,
plump fingers of his hands spread wide
then digit curls toward thumb—
a secret sign, some say
for me a seal,
the mudra of a tyrant.
EVM contributor Teddy Robertson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.