The Children’s Crusade

Proem

Childs, strong, bold?
Why do your parents
Send you ‘cross burning sands?
Childs, arrayed in war-mail,
To Turkish Fords you cross
Into the Gulf’s Streamed Waters.
Cross you must, “For God told
“Us so!” Into the strip
Promised to Jacob’s lot.

How many fictions have we believed
On faith? That our
Enemy were kind
And would acquiesce
To 10,000 children
Making petition to
The Assyrian King?
Perhaps, he queried
Each one, striking
Off the head of
Each Christian child.
They were children.
So, perhaps most
Ate pudding
And worshipped Allah
As God. Few, I
Believe, were martyred.
For children who crossed
A desert would see
Lush delicacies, and
Be swayed to the
Foe’s religion.
That is how
Reality works,
Sending 10,000
Children into the
Wilderness to fight
A man’s war.

Yet, I will save
Them in verse.

I

Lo! Children’s strength
My brother, St. Simon,
Patriot, scoundrel to
The Assyrian Kings;
For St. Jude, his brother,
Whom he in murderous
Intent wished to
Kill, yet thrice over
Was won to Christ.—
Simon saw the Ten Thousand march
From Rome.
Simon, St. of the
Child, warrior of Christ
Bemused the folly.
10,000 marched to
Eternal damnation.

So! Simon with
10,000 of the Nethanim
Came to their aid.
He, in horse drawn
Chariot met the Army of the Damned.

“Children, you march
To die! I am
St. Nicholas, Patron
Of the children.
Separate from yourselves
The Girls and be
Kind to come with me!”

The children, small
Ignoble, threw off
Their cloths of war
And Iron rings.
Thus, they marched to Byzantine,
Where the purple
Threads hung like
Irish maiden’s locks
Of strands. The maids
Fell ‘pon the city
Of Constantinople,
Yet, clandestine,
For Nebuchadnezzar
Reigned there.

St. Simon knew, within
The belly of the beast,
Like Jude his brother
The bard who tells this tale…
The Childflesh would be safe. Becalmed,
He set each with
A Nethanim, and his
Wo. There, the
Journey to Prestor
John’s Kingdom would
Commence.

II

So! The troop set
Off at night,
As the green banners
Of the turks hung
With silver crescent
And the morning star.

The troop fled into
The night, carousing
The sands of Turkish
Beige, a long troop.

Through land, sea
Desert, they trekked.
Upon entering Africa
The Phœnix arose.
Simon saw the Hawk,
Knowing Lancelot
Hailed nearby.
Why, when Lancelot
Knew Magik was
Forbidden, did he
Keep a bird like
So? Some say he
Placed his soul into
The Bird, so his mindflesh
Might have eternal life.

Yet, Simon’s Brother
Arthur, loved his foe
Lancelot. So, the
Troop made meeting.

Lancelot, a moor himself
Paid tribute to the
Kings of Tyre and Ziddon,
And the kings of Egypt,
And the Giant, Spynx.
He, beloved by Arthur,
Took the troop to
The edge of the
Swamp of Despond,
Where Christian
First began his mighty
Journey.

III

In the slough,
The souls of the
Damned lay silent
With white face.
Forgotten, their pale
Pallor glew with the
Water; the Cærbenog
Be afoot, turning
The see Cobalt.
With the light
Of the fairy LORD’s
Mœgic. There, the Childflesh
Saw, reflected, in the pools
Their fantasies.
Simon, swiftly, broke
The waters, causing
The images to be
Disturbed.
From one particular
Image, arose
The Geist of
One of the damned,
Who, for eternity,
Must create the
Images of the
Fairy LORd’s trap.

Simon drew Ajax
His blade of Damascus
Forged in the heat
Of Sodom’s Brimstone
Which Abram kept
Not, but burned in
The Sulphur pits,
With 1,000 precise
Blows; Ajax was struck.
Simon, hoary locks, drawn
To his back, with
Peachflesh shorn upon his
Browhead, struck, pondering
The mystery of love.

The Geist struck high,
Twain arms to prey
Down upon Simon’s
Ajax. The blow struck.
Jude, his brother, whispered
In his ear the words
To win; “Say ‘no’!”
For, to acquiesce to
A warrior like so,
Which the more is
Fought; fraught will
Be the mind.

The Geist struck,
Yet, was a Geist
So with the blade.
Passed through
Simon, the blade
Naught but wind.

IV

Lo! Through the swamp
We left the childs.
Now, there entered
The rabbit hole.
The place where
Sense made none.
Abound, messages
Flew ‘pon the wings
Of candy wrappers
The childflesh
Leapt for them
But, Simon saw quick
The dangers.

Through the air
Flew the candies,
As gnomes hopped
For them; always
They hopped,
Yet, none could
Reach; the childs
Tried, tried, tried.
Who so tried, when
Caught, unwrapped
The candies.
Try, try, try,
If hard enough,
Each filled their mouths.
Chew, they chewed.
Lo! Look how they chewed.
Whatever candy the one
Child had, all others
Must have. So! They
Ate, filled, terrified Simon.
For, his little ones
Bargained with him:
‘twas he, and his Nethanim
Who could reach the
Candies! Lo! Simon
Had enough; so, said
“No.”

It stopped the childs
From jumping. So, soon,
They asked for roast beef.

V

There came to a
Land, of Myrr and Pirates,
Indians and fairies;
Simon saw these
Childs loved to play
Here. Simon, being boundt
For a time to leave
Then here, was taken
To a solitary place
To pray.

The Well-behaved Children
Of Simon, they
Fell into the lot
Of Indians; whose
Well organized
Society bred them
To farm and recycle
The Land.

The wicked Children,
These fell into
The pirates.
They swung, shot
Cannons over coves
Broke and smashed.

So, it came that
The Indians and
Pirates never mingled.

Those who liked play
A little too much, the
Children, they took
To the sea, where
They grew gills, and
Frolicked.

The girls, who were
Themselves beautiful,
Sprouted wings and
Berated, tinkled,
And made the
Flowers grow pretty.

Yet, some souls,
Neither good nor
Bad, those
Whom noone loved,
They wandered alone,
Never able to find
One like themselves
Though many were
There to be found.

The children came
Back to Simon.
Simon saw how
All the children
Left unto their own
Began to go astray.

So, Simon took each
Child and said, “No; your
“Behavior is naughty.
The Indians build
But do not share,
The pirates
Shoot cannons
At the lost ones.
The myrrfolk
Frolic all day
And the fairies
Beautify only themselves.
Now, children, be one
Unit again, or we
Cannot enter into
Prestor John’s Kingdom.

VI

The childflesh
Entered into Prestor John’s
Kingdom, all of them
Grown to youths.
A lion walked out
To them, so with
Another lion.

The first, he told
All the youths this;
“Here is my word;
I am Prestor John.
Forsake your friend Simon’s
Law. Rebel, and I will
Take you into my kingdom.”

The second lion
Said, “No, heed my
Speech; do not listen
To him. Simon is
Your shepherd. He
Has led you this
Far. He will lead
You into my kingdom,
For I will heed
None who do not
Honor their guides
Who love them.”

So, the children
Each made a choice.
Those who chose
The first, they
Became cowardly.

Those children
Who chose the
Second, these
Were at first
Cowardly,
Yet, for the bravery
Of their bold choice,
They entered Prestor John’s
Gates.

VII

If not obvious,
Simon is to be
The shepherd of the child.
Not the idle
Mischief lurking around
The Childflesh.

Jude, he is not so
Strong, yet unrivalled in might.
For, his pen is mightier
Than Simon’s sword,
For, the sword stays
Off the beasts,
But the pen
Guides his hand in war.

Listen to this word,
For every parent is Simon.
And every piece of
Good advice is Jude.
Nare you be angry
About m book’s lack
Of violence. ‘tis
Written so a child
Could read.

For, protect them
From nonsensical religion,
From your unworthy acquaintances,
From devices
From getting all they
Want.
Teach them, so
Their peers do
Not become their
Simon.
And when youth,
Let them succumb
To your discipline
With willing hearts.

Neifert, B. K.. The Elf in Manhattan. Kindle Direct Publishing, 2019.

©2019 B. K. Neifert

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