The Rage of George
Rattling of Sabres
The Gods of War
In the Clouds
The Tyrant Flees
Out of Order
Doing the Patriot Act
The Little Prince
Ichor of the Gods
The Price of Peace
Dead or Alive
Across the Border
Summer in the City
Wolf and Jackal
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and The Idyossey?
ready now, you coming?” George calls from the bed.
Sweet Laura, turning off lights, picks up a book.
“Yes Punkin, I’ll be right there. Are you
Really ready?” she asks, “Teeth brushed, face washed?”
“Yep,” says Simple George, tucked in,
“I’m ready for a story.”
This is a bedtime tradition: Sweet Laura
Loves to read, Simple George hates to, but loves
Laura reading to him. Mother Barbara read him stories
And George, young at heart and simple, has
Found a wife that meets his childish needs,
Lulls him to sleep feeling cozy and warm.
At first Sweet Laura was surprised,
Bedtime stories normally being read to children
Not adults, but it calmed him so, Simple George
Relaxed and safe, all stress and tension leaving,
As Sweet Laura leafs through
Each new page.
Twenty years ago this became the night’s routine:
After he has washed and put on his jammies,
George tucks himself into bed, Laura comes in later.
He prepares a spot for her to sit and she
Reads to Simple George, as she should would a child.
He listens till he falls to sleep.
In other ways their marriage is normal,
From time to time he wakes her at night,
Climbs atop her gently, a loving husband
As attentive to her needs as his own.
For her part, she likes affection, and afterwards
They fall asleep again, her head upon his shoulder.
In marriage simple habits bring comfort and relief,
A welcome routine in a tumultuous world.
The bedtime story is just a part of daily life,
Comfortable to both, a safe addiction,
That while persistent,
Hurts no one.
Tonight’s reading begins where last night’s left off,
The Prince by Machiavelli holds their attention.
A tale of intrigue, tactics, statecraft,
Betrayal, its signs, methods to avoid it,
Loyalty, its value, the many ways it’s gained,
The use of power, and how to lose it.
“Chapter 3,” she reads, “Governance in
Laura edits what she reads, modifies the language.
The book, penned in 1514 sounds stilted,
Like Shakespeare, obsequious, long-winded.
But the story resonates with George, especially
When it involves the failed diplomacy of France.
“’There is no more delicate matter to take in hand,
More dangerous to conduct, more doubtful in its success,
Than to be a leader who introduces changes.
He who innovates will have as enemies all those who are well off
Under the existing order, and only lukewarm supporters
In those who might be better off under the new,’” she paraphrases.
“Like now, in Iraq,” says George, “I’m making changes in Iraq.”
“That’s right, Punkin, you are, and some people don’t like it.
As this book says that’s why your army must be strong,
And that you must make sure your friends and allies get
Rewarded, so they will remain loyal and stick with you.”
At this George nods and says, “OK, go on.”
Laura continues, “This chapter is about bad guys
Like Saddam. You getting sleepy?” “No please go on.”
“’Of those who by their crimes come to be Princes,
Who slaughter fellow-citizens, betray friends, are devoid of honor,
Piety and religion cannot be counted as merits, for these are means
Which may lead to power, but which confer no glory.’”
“That sounds like it comes right from the Bible!” says George excited.
“Why yes it does, it does indeed,” says Sweet Laura,
Places her hand on his forehead, brushes back his hair.
“Saddam’s fate was written not by you, but by God,
For as this book says, “'the ascent to power is sometimes made
By paths of wickedness and crime.'” She kisses his forehead.
George’s eyes are heavy now, his lids droop.
Laura knows it won’t be long before he’s snoring,
But she goes on, “The duty of a prince in Military Affairs,
’A prince therefore, should have no care or thought
But for war; for war is the sole art required in one who rules.’”
George has not heard this last thought, he’s fast asleep.
Laura skims the rest of the Prince, highlighting sections.
“Is it better to be loved rather than feared,
or feared rather than loved? If
We must choose between them, it is far safer
To be feared than loved.” Her marker moves across the page,
Coinciding with the snores of Simple George.
“A prince should therefore be very careful that nothing ever
Untoward escapes his lips; that to see and hear him
One would think him the embodiment of mercy, good faith
Integrity, humanity and religion.” She stops and caps the marker,
Rises from the bed, walks to the phone, hits “3”...
“Karl, he’s asleep. Thanks for book, it’s perfect. Good night.”