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The Curse of Austria

By Scott Marley

From Diplomacy World #32


(I met a man the other day

While walking through the park:

His face was taut and ashen-gray,

His eyes were ringed and dark.

I asked him why he looked so pale –

­Had he enough to eat?

and so he told this ghastly tale

Which I shall now repeat.)


Behold the story of my shame:

Six years ago, I own,

We started up a Dippy game

Observed by one old crone.

I drew a block and clos9d my fist,

Its color none might see,

When suddenly the woman hissed

And pointed straight at me.


“Beware the Curse — “ she cried at me

(I thought she must be daft),

“Beware the Curse of Austria!”

But I just jeered and laughed.

“Beware the Curse of Austria!”

She shrieked, with eyes aflame,

“For he who chooses Austria

Can never win a game!”

My laughter changed to deathly calm,

My smile gave way to shock,

To find upon my shaking palm

The dreaded scarlet block.

And so the Curse of Austria

Had come to rest on me --

The crone knew right, for Austria

as out by Fall oh-three.


At once the Russian and the Turk

Had started creeping west,

While, due to the Italian's work,

I lost my poor Trieste.

The German forced me to retreat

While France carved up my home,

And soon a silent English fleet

Was sailing into Rome.


And ever since, the Scarlet Curse

Has treated me the same,

And Austria does worse and worse

In each succeeding game.

Last month I watched Vienna grabbed

By France in Spring oh-one,

And now I’m nearly always stabbed

Before the game’s begun.


I fall upon my hands and knees

And try my best to pray.

“My Lord," I cry, "Have mercy, please,

And take this plague away!”

And yet I draw the scarlet block

In every game I play,

And still the Curse of Austria,

This Bloody Curse of Austria,

Is with me night and day.


Though twenty lanterns in my room

Spill forth their brightest light,

They cannot cure the awful gloom

Nor keep away the night.

The ruddy, swollen moon may rise,

I lie awake in bed,

For every time I close my eyes

Then all I see is red.

I try to shut my bloodshot eyes,

But all I see is red.


No more to eat, no more to sleep,

No more to shower or shave,

I lie in bed and wail and weep

And rail and rant and rave

In horror for this frightened sheep

The Lord Himself can't save,

This teeny, tiny, trembling sheep

That Death alone shall save,

Who lives the Curse of Austria,

The Scarlet Curse of Austria,

And knows the Curse of Austria

Will haunt him to his grave.

The Fiery Curse of Austria,

The Crimson Curse of Austria,

The Scarlet Curse of Austria

Will haunt me to my grave.