In the land of olive trees
Of rolling hills and canopies
Lived Plink, a man of little note
Who always sat at home and wrote
Long stories of adventures old.
He was a quiet sort of folk
Who took but never made a joke
It was his manner to be meek
To think before he’d think to speak
Though all his tales were of men brave and bold.
One day while Plink was in the wood
A cloakéd man draped in a hood
Approached him from behind a tree
And said, Good Plink, “Please follow me
For there is something you must see.”
Plink felt he had no need to fear.
Thought he, “My house is fairly near,
Should aught befall me in this glen
I’ll swiftly scamper home again
As quick as you say One, Two, Three!”
So the man and Plink
Walked deeper still into the copse
To where the lands grows into slopes
And there the grounds begin to sink.
“Whither go we, goodly sir?”
Asked frightened Plink, his heart astir.
“To land where man has not yet marked
Traversed by carriage, horse or ark
And magics still in hollows there do dwell.
Where teardrops fall as diamond jewels
Where wisest man is called a fool
Where nothing is as what it seems
And time will pass as in a dream
Why I am taking you to hell!”
At this Plink fell into a fright
“I’m not so sure that this is right!
After all, I’m but a boy
I have my life still to enjoy
I do not want to leave just yet!
“And even more than that is wrong,
I don’t think hell’s where I belong
I’ve never hurt a single soul
Ask anyone and they’ll extol
my virtue and great heart, i’ll bet!”
The land was dark and hot
The sunset glowed a vicious red
The flowers on the ground were dead
Plink’s guts were tied up in a knot.
Said to Plink, the hooded man
“I think that you misunderstand
You do not go to hell to stay
At most you’ll be there for a day
Allowing that your task is left complete.
It seems my master overheard
Of skills you have to turn a word
And he’s the rather jealous kind
The very devil, you will find
And he does not like to be beat.
“Old Lucifer shall challenge you
Unto a story-telling duel
And if you win, you’re free to leave
We have not tricks within our sleeves
And we shall honor our demonic word
If you should lose, though, dearest Plink,
Well, then, I would not like to think
About your fate, it isn’t nice–
Just– do not lose, that’s my advice.”
Responded Plink, “Why that’s absurd!
“I do not even know the rules!
So what if Satan has a grudge
He needs criteria with which to judge
Or does he take me for a fool?”
The hooded man he stammered slow,
“I confess I do not rightly know,
But if I had to make a guess
I’d say the judge of what is best
Will be a demon, like I am.”
“And isn’t that a bit unfair?”
Said Plink, giving him a glare.
“A demon dare to cross his boss?
Beezelbub would crack his jaws!
Why he’d be even more completely damned!”
“I never thought of it that way,”
Said the hooded man with much dismay
“but now you mention it, it seems
That it’s a rather nasty scheme
To play on someone such as you”
Said Plink, “I’m glad that you agree,
Now tell Old Luke, here’s my decree.
Storytelling’s quite an art
But it’s no fun to try and start
Declaring who’s better than who
“I respect the devil’s skills it’s true
He’s a master liar through and through
But he can’t just sit and stew
Every time he gets a bad review!
Tell his majesty i’ll call some day
And If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be on my way.
And with that Plink bowed and trotted off,
The hooded man let out a cough.
“Now what the devil will I tell
The devil when I’m back in hell?
Sam Julian, 2009