on hearing
of the death
of the grand duke’s

decades ago
one half awoken a.m.
salivating the black juice
flam down the stairs
to strike a pot

but the air
the kitchen
everyone was …
they’d all breathed …
eau de triste
eau de perte

our tiny kitchen
a hundred thousand people
shared unsaid
unreason sad
silence at their cereal

“in the front”
whispered a thousand older men
“the front room”
whispered a thousand older women

i quick took
the five short steps
opened the double doors of the horizon
to our identity demesne
we welcomed outsiders

small front room
tidy vinyl sofa
habitual formal armchair
black & white telly cabinet
comfortable honest furniture
our hello

the fireplace unlit for a century
agéd once white browning skirting
faded cornercurling paper
ceiling stained with smoke and conversation
the mantle…

the dust and porcelain family
the sharp sophisticated ware
who lie at the locus of us

the matriarch herself
her giggle master prince
son enfant un peu terrible
et ses petits
patriarchs to be
there is never dust
where the new blood was lost
where was the matriarch’s mother

the painted expressions
in formal black and tears
shew shock again
where was the matriarch’s mother

“last night
your brother”
quietly spoke ten thousand angry mothers
who’d followed us through the doors
“the drunken lout
with that damned scythe of his
knocked her off the shelf
she smashed”

the matriarch’s mother
elderly finery and cheer
underneath that delight
a long storm of age

i remember now the matriarch
a porcelain detailed
like exquisite chrysanthemum
elegant majesty ware
golden stars on blue
she was the ritz

she’d once hosted the president of the moon
or so he’d claimed
a foul of fear
an always someone else’s fault
an infant blimp
who’d killed 500 kids
in duty
calm and straight
formal as absolute zero
wore gloves

she led her mother’s funeral herself
the cortege on the mantle shelf
rode all our triste and perte
gave them route to shade
to sorrow past

years later
i moved out
i’d smelt a common hatred
rising through the floorboards
damp from the mouths of cowards
outgas of the blimp
smothering all

the masters of the house
refused to fix it
who inhaled felt & dealt it
denied the malodour existed

i left my origin
toured the many worlds
saw glistens in the cityscapes
gleams in the forests
tried language and cuisine
like coats in a catalogue
found myself abiding …

… the grand old duke has died

i saw these people start
         i did not start
i saw these people breathe his perfume
         i do not breathe his perfume
i see these people climb the shadows
         i do not climb the shadows

i may now be one among
but i was cultured far beyond

yet what i sense
in many eyes
was once in mine

This poem has been accepted by Stride Magazine.