Truth @powers by Isaac Stovell

Our guest editor, Amy Kinsman of Riggwelter magazine, says “Although this poetry is comical and has the quality of a nursery rhyme or a fable akin to the emperor’s new clothes, this does make several serious points. Political protest has been historically and remains for many to be an incredibly dangerous act for which many have died, often at the hands of armies or the state. This particular poem reminds me of the Peterloo Massacre or the French Revolution, but it is equally true of events leading up to and during the Arab Spring, for example.” Read for yourself!

Truth @powers


the Emperor summoned his court & said
“my people – they no longer respect me.”
several Lords fell flat & bowed their heads
saying “but sire, your power is their envy!”
his Guardian – a man grown wise from books
stepped forward & claimed “aye, this is true!
you harvest your subjects like fish upon hooks
& they are dependent on, grateful to, you.”


the Emperor’s court gathered to hatch a plan
on how to best sway away peasantly rage;
some well-battleworn Lords promptly began
to say “well sire, well in this day and age
such lowlifes in anger – a monstrous risk
’pon the legitimate rule you bestow pose”,
at which the Clown kissed teeth in wry *tsk*
& booped this warmonger on the nose.


the Emperor gathered his court in a rush
as violence had broken out in the night.
yesterday’s Lord explained into the hush
“well, we couldn’t just not put up a fight.
ten– undreds of starving women & blokes
up & mounted an assault on your army!”
the Guardian said “this is no time for jokes
but with respect your whole tactic is barmy.”


the Emperor was shaken awake by a maid
& hurried downstairs to his courts – where
a huddle of bloodstained Lords meek & afraid
excused themselves; “sire – you were not there
so you won’t understand that we did what we
must’ve done to keep the peace” & the Clown
said “don’t know much about – well, but to me
killing’s a funny way of calming folk down.”


the Emperor summoned his court & said
“I have come to an unpopular decision.
lest I not execute those who painted red
our streets all this week – I can envision
commoners, masses, scum – all rising up
& trying to live in my palace. this won’t do!”
the Guardian & Clown both just said “yup”
& pressed further said to each other “no – you”.


the Emperor’s court was assembled outside
as the blubbering Lords climbed the gallows.
necks broke as nearly as their master’s pride
as he cheered up with a swim in the shallows
where a rebel, some disgruntled anonymous
shot no more than five arrows into his head
upon which news – Guardian got out an abacus
while cartwheeling Clown called “Prince Ned!”


the Prince became Emperor as soon as he put
his arse on the throne of his dead father
no courtly rosters been decided yet – but
Ned was already quite sure that he’d rather
wipe the slate clean – not knowing whom one
could trust so the Guardian, Clown & the Lords
were all killed: leaving the betrayal risks [none]
until that eve – the castle stormed by the hordes.


CC_Isaac StovellIsaac is an independent researcher and environmental activist living and writing in Sheffield, where they host Neepsend’s Gorilla open mic. Alongside spoken word they are currently working on Selected Earthlings, a series of novels about identity, community, and aliens. Photo by Kaur & Baleem Creatives.

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