The Mummified Head of France’s King Henri IV: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 23

The mummified head of France’s King Henri IV was lost after the French Revolution until a few years ago, when it showed up in a tax collector’s attic.

— Mental Floss, “10 Facial Reconstructions of Famous Historical Figures”

Why was your head in the attic,
and why did you smell like
“garlic, feet and armpits” —
enough that this fact would
go down in history? Maybe
you had bigger fish to fry
than a modicum of bathing.
Maybe you were busy being
a good king, dancing at
the peasants’ garlic feast,
waving your arms and making
various proclamations as
your feet strained against
your stockings. I confess
I don’t know much about you
other than your stink
and your mummified head.
I guess that’s what
a life comes down to:
Some idiot like me
writes a poem like this,
ignores the fact of
your murder by zealots,
whatever it is you tried
to do with your time, and
whatever put the twinkle
in your reconstructed eye.


NaPoWriMo, Day 29: A Double Dactyl (But Not Really)

The Despot Queen of Soap

Rub a dub, scrub a dub,
Queen Ranavalona
bathed on her balcony,
wearing a hat.

Slaves washed her naked flesh
as a crowd cheered and clapped;
there was nothing she liked
better than that.



This is a crazy form. Nuts. Let’s look at the requirements: 1) It’s supposed to be about a person. 2) The first line should be a nonsense phrase. 3) There should be two four-line stanzas. 4) In each stanza, lines one through three have six syllables, and the fourth has four. 4) The two fourth lines rhyme with each other. 5) And … the six syllables in each line should follow a pattern where a stressed syllable is followed two that are unstressed, and then you do that again. 

I think I got everything but that last part. I just … I can’t hear syllables very well at all. There’s a reason why, after a test in elementary school to see which band instruments suited us best, I was advised to *please* not play percussion. 

Also, Queen Ranavalona I ruled in Madagascar in the 19th century. This book (which I’m reading for kicks, not for life coaching or etiquette tips) is where I got the detail about her proclivity for bathing while wearing a hat and while citizens dutifully cheered. Sounds like a fun gal, except for the slaves … and she also ordered a lot of people to be burned at the stake, boiled alive, or chucked off mountains. There’s always something, isn’t there?