POEM Michael Botur of Whangarei

Joke Told To King Juan Carlos

So, the Holy Roman Emperor, King Juan Carlos, gathers Hernán Cortés, Gonzalo and Fernando Pizarro in the pub
And orders that they regale him with their exploits in the New World.
Whoever makes him laugh the hardest will be beatified.

Cortés kicks it off:
“I assumed the guise of God, returned to Tenochtitlan,
a Venice 5000 metres up in the clouds,
dogged by 300 illiterate homesick Spanish
whose ships I scuttled.
In a continent of a hundred million,
I ask about the fate of just two white castaways.
Duplicitous Malinche works as my mistress while I
rape Aztecs across the Yucatan, twisting the Tlaxcalan;
Tludili comes, armed with only diplomacy
He licks his finger and sucks the dirt
he hands round straws to us in our peaked helmets,
carrying sharpened crucifixes, he slits
his wrist and sprinkles blood on the canapés
And to please us, chalks a million squirming slaves,
has their hearts cut out with obsidian blades
to appease us; the slaves run screaming into the lake,
wash the sacrificial pigment off their copper skin,
fetch their shields and feathered spears.
Emperor Moctezuma believes I’m a robotic steel God
Blessed with a blunderbuss gifted from above.
I order Malinche to tell him in Nahuatl
that my people suffer from an illness, it’s terminal,
We’ll die without that luscious yellow metal.
We beg for half a second then use pliers to wrench our medicine
from Moctezuma’s skin.
The funniest part, Boss Carlos, is it was a war of forgiveness
We poisoned the wells with communion wine
and waited. We forced Quetzlcoatl to forgive us
in our trespass, and we cast the first stone, sinless.”

*

Gonzalo Pizarro scoffs, tells Juan Carlos
“Ignore Cortes. My joke is the side-splittingest.
It is I who must be lionised.
From Peru, I marched into the Amazon, trampling Macchu Picchu
6000 kays trudged through tropical slush
with 6000 sows in a platoon,
and slaves we worked to death. God met
us in the forest and commenced the test:
Starving, desperate, we stole the local folks’ cassava,
gorged on it til our stomachs bloated with gas.
Every single thing was inhospitable to Spaniards, poisonous.
my pockets were stuffed with cinnamon and gold dust – all inedible, all useless.
Mutiny bisected us – Orellana, my best lieutenant
Forged a life raft with nails made from horseshoes,
Promised he’d be back to save us with a dugout full of food,
But Orellana sailed 5000 kays down the Amazon the wrong way.
We despaired, descended into the primitive, the satanic,
we would slice steaks from the packhorses and patch the abscesses
with mud to keep the beasts’ hearts beating
When God was done mocking us, we backtracked blister-sores
to Ecuador, eating sticks insects, and we were not scorned
for failing to find El Dorado and strip the golden skin from him, in fact
we became famed for forging the first economy, see, we
bartered our festering syphilitic cocks
for potatoes and smallpox, whether the Amazons wanted it or not.
They couldn’t resist, King Carlos. That’s the funniest bit.”

*

Then Francisco Pizarro interrupts,
“That’s nothing, wait’ll you hear this…
So we clambered up the Andes
Sweating in cotton armour, our scabs
leaking burning melting cheese.
We oozed tourist pus into the alpaca blankets Atahualpa,
the Sapa Inca, was good enough to offer us.
I declared the arrival of the Superior Spanish Renaissance Man
by garrotting, in public, his father Huayna Capac.
I charged my slavering stallion into Atahualpa’s face
This king of ten million who sat on top of a continent
shat himself, aghast at alien horses parading on the beach,
bells chiming in their manes.
The Tiwantinsuyu couldn’t withstand
the blasts of cannon. We raged enough to shake
emeralds from the people’s pockets,
to fill a ransom room with golden goblets.
My friar biffed a bible so hard at Atahualpa
He was knocked from his throne;
One ego and sixty crossbows pinned ten million at Cuzco
Mummies were stuffed inside the throats
of saints; we melted their temples,
chutnified their culture into a boiling Mestizo gazpacho.
Drop into San Salvador, Santiago, Cuzco or Quito
and laugh your arse off, Carlos, ‘cause the best bit is,
they’ve come to idolise us
thanks to the guy you got to sponsor us:
The punchline is
our holocaust
was endorsed
by Jesus.”

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