Haiku for the Twelve Caesars

(A Baker's Dozen)

by William B. Robison

Traditionally attributed to Tardigrada of Ecdysozoa, also known as Tard the Baker, a second-century explorer and writer who worked as a cook in the imperial kitchens and learned the art of haiku on a trip to Nihon in 133 AD. Translated into French and thence to English by philologist Goatée le Grise.

Julius
Lunch time in the field
Vini Vidi Vici — sure
but seize her salad

Augustus
Belushi owes you
but generations still think
Pax Romana is cheese

Tiberius
Depraved, well-shaved, ill
behaved, smothered with pillows
him nobody saved

Caligula
Purple horse's ass
soldiers gathering sea shells
front half a consul

Claudius
Half of America's
TV viewers think your first
initial is I

Nero
Dying, his head in
a cleft stick he said, Dead and
so great an actor

Galba
Galba was I ere
a Palindromedary
I saw Albag ride

Otho
From Ferento near
Viterbo, oho, Otho
four months and then go

Vitellius
Anointing his head
A little dab’ll do you
said Jupiter’s priest

Vespasian
Togas in urine
at the local laund-Rome-at
money doesn’t stink

Titus
Titus smite us for
news of Vesuvius and
sea hare’s detritus

Domitian
Assassinated
succeeded by his best friend
the Nerva that guy

Trajan
Emperor Trajan
centuries of condom jokes
but for one vowel

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