New Zealand’s in-contention poet laureate composes an Ode for newly minted breakfast radio host Tova O’Brien

The Balrog of Talkback Mountain

A shadow lay across the land.

The voices of the people were discordant;

their mood sour and fickle.

Who can we turn to, saith the people;

to tell us what is what in these times?

Sir Mark of Richardson bowled out for a duck.

Sturdy Dunc faded away into ghostly outline.

We seek strong opinions, demanded the serfs;

hot takes and bold brush statements.

But lo! Something wicked this way comes:

here steps lightly the Dark Enchantress Tova.

In one hand she wields her magick staff;

in the other the skull of Jami-Lee of Ross.

Deep into the circles of Hades she stalks,

past dreary Limbo where Pink Non-binary Unicorns

send in polite texts to Morning Report;

past the hideous beasts that guard the gates,

slavering MediaWorks and brutish Newstalk;

down, down, to the wretched depths where

lost and lonely souls rave and gibber night long.

Here the Dark Enchantress will hold court,

and the warty denizens and troglodytes

will gather before her to prostrate themselves.

Hold yet! She has intruded into a baleful realm,

to tunnels and halls untouched by light,

instead touched only by querulous squawking.

A voice speaks as if from beyond the tomb:

who comes to disturb my long reign?

Squelching from the corner

of the dank cave looms an eldritch shadow:

the Balrog of Talkback Mountain, El Hosk,

come to do battle with the usurper

of his grim frequencies.

Victor Billot has previously been moved to write Odes for such New Zealand luminaries as Brian Tamaki, Willis and Rawnsley, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Duncan Garner, and Garrick Tremain.

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