Sad Monarch Herod

Haiku of the powerful and the small

Sad monarch Herod
like his father before him,
achieved infamy.

Pathetic ruler
easy to manipulate,
a slave to his lusts.

John the baptiser
never could keep his mouth shut,
incurred royal wrath.

Herod’s vengeful wife,
Herodias, took offence
at his denouncements.

Cast into prison,
John was forced to bide his time.
Herod still feared him.

The stepdaughter danced
at Herod’s party. Sexy;
the men all lusted.

Whatever you want,
the king had said. Then give me
the Baptiser’s head.

The king grieves deeply,
not foreseeing this outcome,
but he has been caught.

A bloody triumph
on a platter. She, in turn,
gives it to mother.

John’s disciples hear,
and come to claim his body;
bury him with love.

© Ken Rookes 2018



In the fears and uncertainties of first century Jewish politics
an insecure monarch lusts after the niece
who also doubles as his step-daughter.
At a birthday banquet,
the girl entices the gathered dignitaries
with a dance.
Arousing, provocative,
teasing and taunting;
she knows how to shake it.

In the old man’s fantasy foolishness
half a kingdom is offered
as the prize for his pleasant titillation.
A prophet’s head,
severed from its outspoken owner’’s body
and proffered upon a platter,
is the price prescribed
by the girl’s vengeful mother.

A king’s self-importance is never a small thing.
His ego expands even further
in the presence of multiple weighty witnesses;
the offending voice will be silenced.
For good.

It’s been all about power, lust, politics, pride, and retribution.
Between them, over the next two millennia and beyond,
these evils will account for the larger part
of the world’s pain and sorrow.

During that time other offensive voices will be raised
and many will be silenced.
But an outrageous few will recklessly persist
so that the kingdom,
the kingdom grounded in love and truth and sacrifice
will come;
one day,
as promised.


© Ken Rookes 2015

Half a kingdom


In this sad, sordid

and anything but edifying story

a lusting, leering and utterly laughable

monarch makes himself a fool

for the sake of his drunken urges.

Half a kingdom, ha!

he never had a realm of his own to give away

save that which his Roman overlords

allowed him to administer. He is smitten

by the no doubt charms of his dancing

stepdaughter, (in fact the daughter

of the niece that he has acquired as a wife,

but that is too complicated by another half!)

As the story goes, the pathetic king

paints himself into the naked corner

that will become a pitiful but convenient

excuse for murder.

The tale might elicit much ribald jesting

were it being told anywhere else

other than the holy gospel scriptures;

but here it stands as a solemn remembrance

of human weakness;

of overheated sexuality, power and abuse,

of masculine wretchedness

and of feminine duplicity and intrigue.

And, of course, the need for us all

to find deliverance.


© Ken Rookes