BOOK XIV

As two graceful flamenco dancers perform their art,
Tapping in time across a wood stage, their steps echoing throughout the vast hall,
Castanets a-clacking in time, strutting,
Eyeing each other with contempt, then desire, then undisguised lust,
Circling one another, showing off their form, their sensuous bodies,
Her eyelashes fluttering, back arched, his chest a-puffed
Inexorably, inevitably, rhythmically drawn to one another,
Leading to the certain climax at the end,
So too did the two leaders, enemies once, now entangled,
Send each other notes, threatening, cajoling, flattering,
Circling, a diplomatic pas de deux, toward their encounter
In Singapore.
In Singapore.In his gleaming, stately manor,
Residence Number Fifty-Five, just north of the capital,
The Central Luxury Mansion, some called it, rightly so,
The Great Successor to the Revolutionary Cause of Juche,
Outstanding Leader of the Party, Army, and People,
The Great Person, Born of Heaven, the Supreme Leader,
Consulted with his commanders,
Consulted with his commanders,While sipping a Johnny Walker Black.
With ice.
With ice.His advisors attended him, all of them,
Yong-nam and Yong-chol, the Geriatrics, Kim called them,
Cho-song and Cho Ryong-hae, son and father,
And Cho-song’s lovely wife, Yo-jong, the Honored Sister,
Daughter of the Dear Leader, the schemer, the Evil Cutie,
Who (as everyone knew) really ran everything.

They hung on his every word, for the Young Master was indeed
The Honored Descendant, the Grandson of the Eternal Leader,
Whose spirit continues, to this very day, to inspire his loving people!
Prudent they were to listen, for none wanted to repeat the example
Of the uncle executed by firing squad, or his deputy, by flamethrower;
Or the unlucky eleven at the military academy,
Bored, they’d partied with some girls, filmed it, very poor judgment,
For which they were strapped to anti-aircraft guns, and shot down:
What a mess they’d made of the hangar!
And there was of course the brother – his own brother! The eldest son! –
Now that was a tale, the spooks over at the Reconnaissance Bureau,
As they called the venerable spy agency,
They’d thought up a good one! They sent four handsome young men
Charmers all, to Kuala Lumpur, the airport, found a pair of pretty young lasses
Flirted a bit, put dreams in their otherwise unpopulated heads
We’re showrunners for a new series! You’ll be on TV!
A new reality show called Practical Joker!
Broadcast in Korea, Japan, Indonesia … and … yes! America too!
Yes, of course you’ll get to meet BTS!
How the two innocents squealed with delight! What do we do?
They wanted to know.
They wanted to know.So easy! Just walk up to this guy,
They showed them his picture, put this smelly rag in his face,
That’s it!
That’s it. That’s it? they cried.
That’s it. That’s it ? they cried The men smiled knowingly,
That’s all, he’ll know what it’s about, he’ll get a great laugh!
Five thousand dollars US, just sign this release form,
We’ll have cocktails at the Four Seasons afterwards, watch the tape
You’ll be stars! Who knows, maybe The Bachelorette on ABC next!

And so when the scruffy, unshaven brother sauntered through the terminal
Just a few hours later, the girls ran out, just as they’d been told
Held the rag to his face.
held the rang to his face But he didn’t laugh.
He choked; thick red blood dripped, then streamed from his mouth;
He stumbled, tried to run, to find a doctor.
He stumbled, tried to run, to find a doctor.They said it was VX
A deadly nerve agent. One thing was true:
He did know what it was about.
He did know what it was about.So, probably best to pay attention,
Not miss any of the Great Leader’s immortal utterances.
Not miss any of the Great Leader’s immortal utterances..“I’m ready,”
Said Kim Jong-un, the Great Successor, the First Secretary,
Chairman of the National Defense Commission, and of
The Workers’ Party of Korea, the Deserving Inheritor,
Son of the Dear Leader, grandson of the Great, nay, Greatest Leader.

From the back of the tastefully appointed drawing room came a voice
Thin, a bit high-pitched, but still commanding attention.
“No,” spoke the voice, “Ready you are not.”
All eyes turned to the wizened, greenish-tinted face of the Ancient One,
Trusted advisor to every Marshal of the Army, every Chairman of the Presidium;
As he attempted to stand, leaning on an ancient cane, carved with figures
And runes from before the time of humans.
And runes from before the time of humans. “Kim Yo-da!”
“Ready, are you?” he waved a gnarly finger at the youngster.
“Naught you know of ready! The Leader of the Workers’ Party
The deepest commitment, the most serious mind must have,
Not one soaked in capitalist American whiskey!
Fail will you, before the rolling cameras and smooth-talking diplomats,
Finish your training you must, young Leader who would be Supreme!”
Nobody spoke, all mouths were hushed, what would happen?
No one talked to Kim Jong-un like that!
No one talked to Kim Jong-un like that! “I won’t fail you,”
The lad answered finally, his voice steady. “I’m not afraid.”
“You will be,” Kim Yo-da shot back. “You will be.”
“You will be,” Kim Yo-da shot back. “You will be.” “No,”
Interjected Kim Yo-jong, the Honored Sister, the Evil Cutie,
The true mastermind of the Democratic Republic,
“No,” she whispered, cruelty in her soft voice,
As she gestured to the battle-hardened guards standing at the doors,
“Afraid you will be. Take him away!”
“Afraid you will be. Take him away!” And like so many before him,
Kim Yo-da disappeared forever, and, according to the Law
Of the Great Founder of the Korean State, Kim Il Sung,
Yo-da’s family, his wife, his children, grandchildren, three generations
Wiped away from the Land of the Morning Calm;
Kim Il Sung, he knew how to set a stirring example!

“Brother dearest,” Yo-jong placed her thin fingers on Kim’s chubby arm,
“One more thing to discuss.”
“One more thing to discuss.” “What is it?” he asked, calmly sipping his drink.
“The meeting is to be in Singapore, is that not correct? You agreed to that?”
The Supreme Leader furrowed his thick brows. “Yes,”
He replied, a touch of concern in his voice: why was she asking?
“I’ve always wanted to visit,” he explained, “to see the crazy rich Asians,
You know,” the Dear One chuckled, and the room followed suit,
Right on cue, because their lives were on the line, “Just like me!”
But seeing the Honored Sister frown, he sagaciously added, “What?”
“How,” she wanted to know, “are you planning on getting there?
You are afraid, like our dear father, to fly, and rightfully so,
Our glorious airline, Air Koryo, not known for a modern, safety-conscious fleet!
Just a few Ilyushin relics, a gift from Khrushchev, a few Tupolevs,
Not very comfortable, cramped seats, with a very bad habit of crashing!
Built in the time of your grandfather!” And all stood at the mention of the Founder.
“It’s almost five thousand kilometers to Singapore,
Shall we call Mister An, the Director of our honored airline,
And ask if he thinks they will make it that far?”
And ask if he thinks they will make it that far?” “Ummm….”
“And what will it look like, when the Trump’s Air Force One lands,
The well-polished, glistening, four-engine giant,
Parks next to ours, half the size, tiny in comparison, a laughing-stock!”
“Ummm…”
Ummmmm…“Brother dearest,” she plied her bony hands on his arm,
“I’ve taken the liberty – “ with icy eyes she looked across the frightened room,
Why didn’t any of you geniuses think of this? they seemed to ask –
“Of calling our friend Xi Jinping in faraway China, he will lend us
His own Seven Forty-Seven, so we will be equal to the Trump,
For all know that size matters.”
For all know that size matters.” And so it came to pass
That the two well-fed leaders, the amber-headed Man of Manhattan,
And the Prince of Pyongyang, each on their very own wings of Boeing,
Landed on the Most Blessed of Isles, home of the mythical merlion,
Half-fish, half furious feline!
Half-fish, half furious feline! For his part, a foul mood bedeviled the Trump
That backstabber Trudeau, Canada’s boss, insulted him at the G7,
Just the day before, because upon the Land of the Maple Leaf
The Orange One was imposing tariffs; then Trudeau announced retaliations!
The nerve! And Merkel no better, sure, a PhD in nuclear chemistry,
Doesn’t make her smart! (Some said it did.) And then that slimy frog Macron!
Oh, he’d show them! Who among them could negotiate with North Korea?

The Great Successor, on the other hand, arrived in fine fettle,
Having spent the long flight in good-natured debate, with some
Long-legged cheerleaders from Wonsan on the merits of
Speyside versus Islay Scotch whiskeys; the giggling lovelies, of course
Feared for their lives, but didn’t show it; breathed relief
When the Supreme One passed out on Xi Jinping’s satin-lined bed.

As a puppy who has been let loose in the house for the very first time
Runs excitedly from here to there, exploring, everything so new,
Sniffing, tail all a-wag,
Sniffing, tag all a-wag,So Kim Jong-un, Beloved Ruler of the Hermit Kingdom,
Accompanied by the Evil Cutie, stern in her appearance,
Took in the charming sights of the island nation of Singapore,
The lovely Gardens by the Bay, with its great flowered dome,
On foot he walked the Jubilee Bridge across the wide-flowing river,
Then to enjoy a cocktail atop the Marina Bay Sands,
A quick Johnny Walker or three at the “C’est La Vie” before a big day tomorrow.

Trump arrived first, at the Capella, where the two were to meet.
Grumbling, as was his wont, while he waited, he didn’t like that,
Then the Heaven-Sent One entered the foyer just seventeen minutes later.
Handshakes all around, Trump and Kim, Kim and owlish Bolton
Tiny Yo-jong and fat Mike Pompeo and on and on: we’re all pals here.
The Snivelling Snitches were present too, at least for the moment,
Recording everything, taking photos of the historic moment;
Then they sat along the long table, the Americans on one side,
Kim and his party along the other.
Kim and his party along the other. As the Snitches were ushered out,
The Great Marshal, the Hope of the Struggling Masses Everywhere, joked;
“I wonder,” he grinned, “what sort of stories they’ll make up about us?”
He asked the Trump, knowing how the Man of Manhattan hated them.
“So dishonest, all liars!” The Trump agreed, and both laughed,
A good omen foreshadowing the success of the great Summit.
Then Kim Jong-un, grandson of the Eternal President,
Sat straight, folded his hands, and spoke these words, these very words,
Expressing warm care for all people, for safeguarding peace,
Inspiring all on both sides to strive harder, and all in the room
Nodded their heads approvingly, cried their enthusiastic assent,
Lauding the ineffable wisdom of the Supreme Leader,
The Shining Sun of the Korean People!

“I bring you greetings on behalf of the Democratic People of North Korea,
In me they have placed their trust, as high as the sky, as deep as the sea!
It is mete and just that we two leaders should come together,
For mighty are we! Each of us brings strength inexhaustible force
Missiles and nukes and armies of faithful and competent people without end
To our respective causes; history, and the people not just of our countries
But of the world demand we settle our differences.”
Seeing the Americans nod in agreement, and how could they not,
Marshal Kim continued, his voice commanding their attention,
“Why, I wonder, has it taken so long for our countries?
Why could not blessed Obama meet with my father, the Dear Leader?
Or Bush, the Terror of Iraq? Or Clinton, lover of interns,
With my grandfather, the Founder of our Party and State?”

Now it fell upon the Trump to respond, “Mister Chairman,
Oh, we are the smart ones, you and I, those who preceded us
Stupid, dumb, only we two have the IQ,
Only you and I possess the long-ranging eye,
To do this thing! Now – ” for it was time to get serious – “we would like you
To denuk-el— denook – ah – ”
To denuk-el— denook – ah – ”Denuclearize,” Bolton interjected helpfully,
“Right, get rid of your nukes,” clarified the Orange One, annoyed,
Shooting the owlish advisor an icy look.
Shooting the owlish advisor an icy look. “What nukes?”
Teased Kim, and all the Red Koreans laughed at the joke.
Then the Guiding Spirit of Independent Self-Reliance
Continued, “Of course we all desire a Korean peninsula,
Unified, free of nuclear weapons, free of hatred and distrust,
And I commit to you that I am committed to that worthy goal.”
At that the Trump shot a look at fat Mike, as if to say,
You see? We can deal with him!
You see? we can deal with him!!. “But – ”
Kim leaned forward, “You know in my government, I have men
Hardliners you call them, they will not want to yield so quickly
Without some sign from you. Not me, of course, I can see
How one can trust a man like you. But these men, the hardliners,
Well, they can cause trouble.”
Well, they can cause trouble. We’ve heard all this before,
Scribbled Bolton, scoffing, on a yellow legal pad,
As fat Mike wrote back, scornfully, He is so full of shit!
But the Trump, ever the Trump, he’d prepared for just this moment!
“Roll ‘em,” he cried, as a Secret Service agent wheeled in a giant screen,
An eighty-inch Sony, not a Samsung, the Trump had insisted on that,
Didn’t want to insult his new friend.
YDidn’t want to insult his new friend.. The agent handed the Trump
A remote, and he clicked “play,” and all saw a bustling city,
There, next to Kim Il Sung Square, a gleaming new hotel,
In the city’s most desirable location, with an ornate atrium,
Shopping spaces, Tiffany, Nordstrom, Starbucks (of course)
Rendered in beautiful CG, the Trump Tower Pyongyang Midtown,
The Trump’s own soothing voiceover describing thirty floors of rooms,
Twenty of condos, with the penthouse on top, occupying two floors,
A gift from the Trump to the Supreme Marshal of the People,
With an infinity pool to boot!
With an infinity pool to boot! . And then the camera flew away,
To the white mountains of the interior, near the Chosin Reservoir,
The Trump Ski Palace, miles of trails through virgin snow,
Then to Nampo, along the Taedong River, the Trump Beach Resort,
And in Sinuiju, on the border with China, the Trump Oriental,
World-renowned chefs creating a fusion of two great cuisines,
And exciting white-water rafting on the broad Yalu.
“Wealth, glamour, and elegance I will bring to you, oh Great One!
Movie stars and fashion shows and Mercedes dealerships
Come now and join my world!” He paused, significantly,
Then gestured to Bolton, who handed him a CD.
“Elton John, Rocketman, this I hand to you as a sign of respect.”
With that the Trump concluded his proposal. All was quiet.
Fat Mike Pompeo, unbelieving, glanced at Bolton, in a state of shock.
Only three letters could he scrawl on the pad of yellow: “WTF.”
Kim considered what he’d heard, then glanced at his Rolex.
“Oh man of Manhattan,” He Who Was Born of Heaven said,
“Indeed how it required men like us to reach these agreements!”
“So it did!” the Trump’s head nodded vigorously, as all stood to leave.
“I can tell, Chairman Kim, a great judge of character you are!”
As they left the room, soon to be consecrated, retired forever,
The cameras were there, awaiting, the questions rang out
“The ratings!” the Trump whispered to fat Mike. “The ratings!
Will be fantastic! Blessed Obama never had such ratings!”
“Yes,” Kim was saying, “it was like a day in fantasy land.”

The Trump slept well on Air Force One, secure in the knowledge
Nobody cared about Trudeau or Macron or Merkel any more,
He’d just met Kim Jong-un!
He’d just met Kim Jong-un!. Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader,
On his way to return the borrowed Air China Seven Forty-Seven,
Conferred with his generals, and of course the Evil Cutie,
Who showed him plans, glorious plans, for multi-megaton hydrogen bombs,
And new, long-range ICBM’s, with unprecedented accuracy,
Say goodbye to Seattle, San Francisco, LA, even Denver, maybe Dallas,
Whenever you want! Just push the little button !And what did Kim say?
Did he succumb to the Trump’s temptations?
Did he imagine himself in the infinity pool,
Located at Pyongyang’s most desirable intersection,
Kicking back with Matt Damon, Madonna, Beyonce, and maybe even Carli B?
As the Honored Sister slowly nodded, with not a trace of hesitation, `
He gave this order to the generals:
He gave this order to the generals:Get to work.