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Post-Modern Polonius

Anne Babson


Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell” – William Shakespeare

Polonius stabbed behind tapestry --
            But audiences don’t mourn his murder.
Hackneyed speeches are the real travesty.
            Today, when prose is cannon fodder,
“There is nothing outside the text.” It bores,
Bereft of meaning, say Doctors.

The musings of the sage retain no charm.
            Who wants some advice instead of Buzzfeed?
Slogans get tattooed on the blogger’s arm,
            But messages that impart a true creed?
Doctors don’t trust the word, don’t trust the deed,
But that leaves us without a single trust.

Good words uttered, Doctors say, always rust

Or rise from their own ashes to recast
            In new context a new word perspective.
Doctors say that not even truth can last.
            Immutable truth is just subjective –
            Just ask them – it’s in their retrospective!
But they leave just one logical step out:

If we should doubt truth, then we should doubt doubt.

Back to Polonius behind curtains –
            Before he dies, he speaks bumper stickers:
“Give thy thoughts no tongue” the man ascertains.
            Avoid the whores and avoid the liquors.

He speaks trite axioms for nitpickers.

“To thine own self be true,” but what is true
When hiding in textile is what you do?

My advice before you leave, and I die
            At the hand of the Prince, is only this:
Over spilled milk and Lot 49, cry.
            Hiroshima, Mon Amour, and then kiss.
                                                           Wait for Godot; wait and then reminisce.
When you return for my bones, shrink-wrap them.
On the Doctors’ bones, that’s where you stack them.

Anne Babson’s work has appeared in literary journals on five continents. She is the award-winning author of four books and one libretto. Her latest poetry collection, The Bunker Book (Unsolicited Press) discusses the rise of extremism in the USA and reasons to hope for better days.  She lives and writes in New Orleans.