For my post at Real Toads Tuesday Platform. Another poem in the Dorian Gray series of poems I have been writing for several years. the Café Royal is real and exists in London. It was the pied a terre for modern artists and wits such as Whistler and Oscar Wilde.

“We have little time and lots to do, lets take time for everything we do.” Oscar Wilde
A year had passed since my husband died –
It was spring and I was alive!
I had married –
A rich old man married for convenience –
He sputtered on top of me and-
Out, like a candle.
I put on the new dress of beautiful violet,
Second mourning.
I had my disapproving (and soon to be sacked) butler
summon a cab for me.
I was going to the Cafe Royal for their wonderful cafe mocha,
And to be honest,
To see if he would be there.
He had sent the loveliest note
And later, flowers- and more flowers.
Sedate and discrete of course.
My footman assisted me into the hansom
and of we clipclopped.
The doorman at the Café Royal assisted me out
of the hansom and looked askance at my second mourning.
I ignored him.
Into the large room I stepped,
suddenly afraid. What if he really was there!
the maître ‘d showed me to one of the discreet tables
on the side of all the filled, busy ones.
I ordered a café mocha and waited.
Suddenly our eyes met across the room.
The beautiful man – had not changed in a year.
As he crossed the room, a brown smudge imposed itself
between he and me – then disappeared.
As he came closer I saw him as an old man,
a roue’ – eyes filled with lust.
I felt I would faint.
He looked concerned and told one of the waiters
to bring me the newest thing –
iced water – a tall thin glass filled with ice
brought monthly from Greenland,
parked in huge blocks in warehouses on the East Indian Dock,
covered with sawdust to preserve them.
Mrs. Helmsworth, he murmured.
I could not speak. Again the vision of him
as an old old man.
He smiled but in his eyes
I saw evil.
I found my voice.
Good afternoon Mr. Gray.
He smiled, slowly and sat down across from me
and handed me a yellow rose.
In spite of me, I felt the heat.

The Refusal

For Bjorn’s prompt at Real Toads. He is asking for toxic emotions. Again, it brings Dorian Gray to mind. This is two in two days.

The Refusal
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple”. Oscar Wilde

He was astounded.
The woman turned him down.
She was sweet about it, in an American
Southern kind of way –
She looked at him with huge pansy brown eyes
and said,
Thank you. I appreciate it.
I have lost a dear friend and I am –
I am numb.
And she rose from the table and walked out.
She paid for her own drinks as well.
One of the Café Royal’s delicious waiters cleared the table
and looked at him with wistfulness.
He knew that look and this particular waiter.
He also had the waiter bring a friend as well.
He was angry. (how dare she refuse him!)
He was hurt. (how dare she refuse him)
He was mystified. (how dare she refuse him!)
Afterwards when the delicious waiters were sleeping,
Dorian went into the secret room and looked
at the portrait of himself painted so many years ago.
He wondered,
Did she see through him?
Did she see him as he really looked?
He went back to the waiters to awaken them.
Time for more frolic.

picture of Dorian Gray

Cafe Royal 06/08/2018

For Kerry’s Prompt today at Real Toads, Spec Fic (speculative fiction). We are to write a poem that is based on Spec Fic, dystopian, furturistic, horror, gothic. I am adding a new poem to my Dorian Grey series (character by Oscar Wilde).  The picture of the young Tony Bourdain is one of my favorites.  We were cheffing at the same time. I burned out and left the professional world, he stayed and became an icon.  He suicided, I am still here.  There is a lot of sadness about his suicide; we are of an age, had similar beginnings of our careers, we were at one point high all the time (it was a way of kitchen life in the 70’s and early 80’s), we both travelled extensively tasting food and experiences.  I miss him a lot.

Anthony Bourdain 1979

Cafe Royal 06/08/2018

“…your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”
― Anthony Bourdain
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Oscar Wilde

The third cafe mocha of the morning,
The young man with the antique face
put down his cup and stared at the handsome waiters.
The Café Royal always had the most…delicious waiters.
His eye was arrested by one of the waiters
taking an absinthe to someone –
It was 11:00 am in the morning.
Surely too early for absinthe.
He spotted her.
At the table alone, grief in every inch of her body.
She put down the newspaper –
Lowered it down slowly as if,
as if it were a baby or a
mortally ill cat.
The waiter flamed the absinthe for her.
He said something to her.
She raised her eyes to him and then lowered them.
Picking up the absinthe,
Picking up the newspaper.
The young man with the antique face
continued to stare at her until
she looked up.
She saw him.
For once he was ashamed of his actions.
He stood and walked to her table.
She looked at him from head to toe
and said
She lowered her face again and
one of the gorgeous waiters came
with another absinthe.
Don’t, he spoke. Please don’t.
He put his hand lightly on her wrist.
I know grief he said. I know pain of loss
and heartbreak. I’ve watched my friends dying
She put her head down and began to read the paper again.
Upside down he read:
“Anthony Bourdain, 61, found dead by suicide”
For once he was almost human.
For once he almost paid for her drinks and walked away.
Dorian Gray sighed. What the hell,
One only lives forever.
He sat down at the table
and looked into her eyes.

Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray – public domain photo

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