New Zealand’s demi-official poet laureate Victor Billot composes an ode for National’s hapless Todd Muller

Traitor’s Gate

Beneath the Great Wall of the Polls,

they file in to the sooty tavern.

No trumpets blast.

Queens Landing is a hundred leagues afar.

Old Sir Nick the Cantankerous has fallen.

Whispers of treachery and black magic.

A raven on a dead branch squawks ill omen:

the Ghost of Coalitions Past stalks the land,

He whose name they dare not speak.

Some mutter they are marching in circles.

Simon the Unfortunate sits with a pile of memoirs,

his lopped head smirking happily from the tabletop.

Grand Panjandrum Hipango reclines

on a gilded litter carried by sixteen retainers.

Professor Goldsmith waits silently,

tied to a chair with mouth securely gagged.

The Good Soldier Penk nurses the bandaged foot

he just stabbed himself in.

But lo! A blast of snow from the open door.

Voices trail off one by one.

Sweepeth in Lady Judith of Oravida,

clad in her cape of Bezzant feathers.

Her piercing eyes pass over this motley assortment.

An eyebrow curls up, and further up: all quail.

There is a traitor she declaims. Among us.

Her withering gaze travels the dingy inn.

All eyes drop down.

All eyes but Toad Mullet. Lord of the Bay!

Transfixed like a rabbit before a fox.

Confess, O Toad. The Lady leaneth in.

I … er …avers hapless Toad.

To the dungeon! Roars Lady Judith.

Toad is dragged away to a chorus of jeers.

Lady Oravida glares at her lieutenants.

No one tweet. No one leak.

No one breathe. No one speak.

Victory or death!

She turns and vanishes into the night,

trampling Dr Shane Reti underfoot.

Underlings and minor nobility

stagger after her into the howling ice storm.

Yet in the far corner, shadowed,

a figure sits alone in thoughtful calm.

The fire burns low and his bald pate

gleams; Baron Luxon picks his teeth,

and bides his hour.

Victor Billot has previously been moved to write odes for such New Zealand luminaries as The Son of Key, Trevor Mallard, Mike Hosking, and Garrick Tremain.

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