The pigeon towers in his pride of place—
An outdoor table, Hampton Court Café.
Big as a hen, he thrusts his blunt-beaked face
Into a tourist's unattended tray
Of crisps and sausage rolls. His wrathful gaze
Warns anyone who might usurp his prize;
He seems to ponder all his past-life ways
Of cutting wives and traitors down to size.
From a safe distance, his winged subjects coo
Their Vivat Rex! from crenellated towers
Above the ancient clock that heaved its two
Strong hands to count five hundred years of hours—
Hours that saw castles, kings, and countries burn—
And chimes Te Deum for the king's return.
Plow through the forest; spare no owl or tree.
The Third Estate can never spoil your plans.
With axes, paving stones and peasantry
You can be just as bold as Louis Quinze,
Who, when Parisians rudely asked him why
Their sons were being shanghaied to Quebec,
Built roads to Fontainebleau straight from Versailles
So he could keep impertinence in check.
The Louvre's not worth it, or the haute cuisine.
Speed past the outskirts with your curtains drawn.
It's better to be king than to be seen.
Lay waste to everything you must. Drive on.
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