Robert Cooperman (PhD, U of Denver) has published a book of poems, In the Household of Percy Bysshe Shelley (University of Florida Press). His poetry has also appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry East, and Atlanta Review. Other work by Robert Cooperman published in Weber Studies can be seen at: Vol. 22.3.
Manuel, Emperor of Byzantium, Weary of Extending His Hospitality, Lies to Louis VII: the Second Crusade
Louis is a child, smiling
to bear what he longs to believe.
I told him Conrad of Germany had routed
a great Turkish force at Iconicum
and off he dashed to join the looting.
His army grew restive as brats
at our "decadent" refreshments,
yet stuffed their mouths with delicacies
like mastiffs breaking into
their master's great hall.
They scowled at our art and music
as if to be transported by chords
and the painter's stains is a sin
against the sword's percussion.
Thank Christ he takes his Eleanor,
her eyes big as the dome of Saint Sophia
whenever she beholds a man or meal,
telling me she's a woman of the world,
her hot hand clamped on my robed arm.
Other women perform their duties
of bargaining for produce and cooking.
She's a brake on his fool's crusade
and will bring him to grief
when the Turks wheel like a huge bear
suddenly striking the hunters,
their lances harmless as the pins
on women's brittle brooches.
Louis won't even know he's dead
until Saint Peter admonishes,
"A poor figure you cut
in the service of Our Lord."