“War”

I
In Love and War, what’s foul is labeled “fair”
(At least that’s what a lot of people claim).
For love of Fame to cause a war’s not rare—
Desire can turn to wild what once was tame,
And winners often are the bold who dare
To play as though contestants in the game
Obeyed, at most, a single ruthless rule:
That mercy is the virtue of a fool.

The present episode will illustrate
How flames of envy’s fiercely raging fire
Can burn a friendship ‘til what’s left is hate.
To save myself from readers’ anxious ire,
I’ll start my tale and end your restless wait
To hear my song of anger and attire:
I’ll tell how dearest friends were turned to foes
When Fate arrayed the two in matching clothes.

II
Once Missy Priss and Kimberley McQueen—
The heroines who occupy this episode—
Were friends as close as Earth had ever seen
(Or poet praised in eulogizing ode).
But, as a tower never known to lean
One day might crack and suddenly implode,
Some friendships crash as quickly to the ground
As lightning seen ahead of thunder’s sound.

The cause that brought their lovely friendship down
And made eternal rivals of the pair
Was nothing other than a gaudy gown
The ladies both were seen one day to wear.
The Queen of Fashion’s chrome and golden crown
Was not an ornament they’d gladly share.
The choice of dress appeared to each to say,
“A fearsome fashion war is underway.”

Once Missy saw the latest breaking news—
Which showed McQueen enjoying drinks and lunch
While wearing Missy’s style of gown and shoes—
She quickly ate her bowl of Cocoa Crunch,
Then rushed to find McQueen at Eats and Brews
(To give her face a bruising power punch).
On reaching Kimmy, Priss did what she’d planned—
She gave her face a not-so-helpful hand.

Then, Missy shrieked, “How dare you steal my style
And strut around as though it were your own!
That masterpiece, designed by Leonard Lyle,
Was meant to beautify my form alone.
And now the world will think that, all the while,
I’ve tried to be your slavish fashion clone.”
The bruised and bloodied Kimberly McQueen
Replied that Missy’s skin was turning green

(Which, readers know, is often Envy’s shade).
Then Kimmy said, “It’d be a sorry waste
To only dress a plain but haughty maid
In clothing suited more to royal taste.
If gowns could choose, they certainly would trade
A girl ignored for one who’s wildly chased.
If gowns could talk, they’d say, “I don’t delight
In clothing bottoms full of cellulite.”

Offended, Missy gave her gut a kick
(Each moment seemed to make her rage increase),
Yet, Kimmy’s hands delivered not a lick,
[But not because she sought to keep the peace—
She fought with words and never stone or stick
And favored most the Nasty Press Release
Of any lethal weapon one could choose
Because it helps to shape the public’s views].

III
The rage of Ajax Telamon denied
His prize of armor great Achilles wore—
The rage which drove the man to suicide
And then to Hades’ life-forsaken shore—
Would match the ladies’ rage if multiplied
Perhaps a hundred thousand times or more.
…And feeding anger better left unfed
Were words the House’s chatty servants* said.

*The Press [servants in the House of Fame]

The servants formed a pair of warring camps
(A group on Kim’s and one on Missy’s side).
The words they wrote and spoke became the lamps
That served the voting public as a guide
To granting Popular Approval Stamps
To Missy or the foe with whom she vied.
Debates about who best had worn the gown
Incited fights on streets in ev’ry town.

And soon the people also would debate
About* whether Missy should forgive
Or whether Kimmy’s acts had earned her hate.
Some thought it best to make one’s heart a sieve
(Which filters dross to reach a purer state*),
But others wondered how McQueen could live
And shouted, “Kim McQueen deserves the chair
For wearing what she had no right to wear.”

*meter trumps grammatical correctness

*What passes through the sieve,–and not the sieve, itself—reaches a purer state

“McQueen’s among the worst who have betrayed.
Aeneas leaving Dido’s sandy shore
And Brutus piercing Ceasar with his blade
Are slight compared to Kimmy’s act of war.”
To bloody Mars the warring parties prayed.
They crossed their hearts devoutly and then swore:
“By God and everything in which I trust,
I know my cause to be the one that’s just.”

Behind computer screens, each raging horde
Prepared to give the foes their just desserts.
With barbs they borrowed from a comment board
And “I Adore McQueen” or “Missy” shirts,
They armed themselves before they wildly warred
And caused the blood to flow in crimson spurts.
[All thought that Kim and Missy’s bitter feud
Would only end if civil war ensued.]

IV
…To tell of tears and blood the people shed
Surpasses any mortal poet’s skill.
To say that armies drowned in seas of red
Or piles of corpses made a human hill
(Or any metaphor a poet’s said)
Would not deserve the name of “overkill.”
Instead of seeking heights I can’t attain,
I’ll leave the rest to ev’ry reader’s brain.

I’ll only tell you what the war achieved:
As often happens when two armies strive
To win the crown for causes much believed,
The heroic leaders kept themselves alive
While soldiers’ friends and kin were much bereaved
That loving husband John did not survive.
And, once the course of war was fully run,
The parties both exclaimed, “Hurray, we’ve won!”

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