All Swans in England Belong to the Queen

A colleague of mine at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ posted bits of triva on Facebook during Sunday’s Super Bowl. One of those bits read, “All Swans in England Belong to the Queen” and became the title of a poem I started writing last night and finished, for now, this morning.

Don’t hesitate to point out typos.

All Swans in England Belong to the Queen

for Queen Elizabeth I

And I assume the king too, if today, there was a king,
but there’ve been many kings to burden the throne
with their fatty thighs, their jowls slick with chicken grease,

drips of wine spotting their chins like the heads
of purple pimples and, of course, the queens, with their
crowns and curls, sitting quietly, dutifully near their spouses,

save for that one brash lady who had no time for marriage,
who creamed her face white, and unchained the protestants
from every burning stake; yes, all the swans in England

belonged to her and I’ve no doubt she took full advantage
of every bird she could. I’m sure she charged young chaps,
to swim, like eels, through marshy ponds where swans floated

across dark waters as clouds float across the sky, miscreant blokes,
predators plucking feathers so poets could dip stems in ink,
blot wrinkled parchment with stories about magic forests

where donkeys slept with fairies and grim princes debated the benefits
of being or not being. Archers and bowmen needed stiff plumes
so their arrows could properly split the air, puncturing apples

positioned on the crowns of unfortunate tikes. Finally, it was essential
from time to time, between beheadings and marriage proposals,
to recline under willow trees that stretched over rills and puddles

where lilies bloomed and swans drifted on warm waters unfolding wings
that stretched as angels’ wings might after heaven decreed it was time to nap.


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