Simon MacCulloch


Raw Deal

That thing with John the Baptist, it was Mum’s idea, not mine.
It didn’t help that Herod was half-cut on birthday wine.
And all his mates, you’d think they’d never seen a woman dance!
So anyway, he promised, and dear Mama saw her chance.
They had the guy in prison so there wasn’t long to wait
And Mama got the prize I’d earned, delivered on a plate.
What kind of deal is that, I ask you—think what I could get
With all the gold I could have taken—half his kingdom, yet!
Or maybe just a little palace, staffed with lots of slaves
And all the other tasty things a growing princess craves.
But no, she had to have revenge for something that he’d said
‘Bout who a certain person ought to take into his bed.
Who gives a shit? The guy was crazy, anyone could see.
And even if he wasn’t mad, his nut’s no use to me.
Or her, if she’d have stopped to think—it couldn’t last for long.
The sun would shine, the flies would feast, the thing would start to pong.
She’d keep the skull to show her friends, but skulls all look the same—
“How quaint, my dear—a relative? The Baptist? So you claim…”
And now that all my friends have heard, it’s me who gets the jokes
‘Bout gettin’ head and givin’ head and do it till it chokes.
I could’ve had a chariot, I could’ve had a villa!
I could’ve had a galley-ship with galley-slaves to fill her!
But Mama wants her chopped-off head—oh sure, that’s fine, that’s cool.
Don’t worry, Mum, your daughter really likes to look a fool.
Well, never mind, there’s always next year’s birthday dance, and hey
You klutzes better think on how a girl can get her way
Cos now I know what’s up for grabs, it’s really up to you:
You treat me nice, it’s gold; if not, it’s gold and noggins too.

Simon MacCulloch lives in London and is a regular contributor to Reach Poetry, The Dawntreader, and Sarasvati.