November 9, 1888

For Marian’s prompt over at Toads: word for the day: Gormless. Meaning stupid, unintelligent. Synonyms: thick headed. dull, stupid, bone headed, witless.  WARNING:  I don’t believe in warnings. Life doesn’t give you warnings but in this case, I am making an exception.

November 9, 1888
“From hell. Mr. Lusk, Sor… Excerpt from letter from Jack the Ripper, October 15, 1888”

He had been looking after Mr. Dorian for several years now,
and it amazed him how pure and young his face still was.
Lately he had watched Mr. Dorian going out at night.
Returning late and in a most disturbed state of mind.
As a butler it was not his job to criticize his employer
but lately, Mr. Dorian had given him goose flesh.
He could be gormless about about Mr. Dorian
but something was amiss.
And those murders in Whitechapel had happened
the same nights Mr. Dorian went out.
Went out and returned late,
straight to his bath and destroying his clothes.
He had found the clothes in the dust bin, bloodied.
A cold dry night with a crescent moon
Mr. Dorian went out again.
This time, he followed him.
Straight to Whitechapel, wandering around behind him.
Searching? For what?
He saw Mr. Dorian with a prostitute,
Blonde and a beauty for this area.
He followed behind them to her room in Miller’s Court.
He stood outside and to be honest,
the hair on his neck rose.
Shadows played on the curtain but the shadows kept moving.
Then there was stillness.
And more stillness.
He decided to open the door.
He opened the door and almost fainted.
Mr. Dorian had posed the brick pincher
in a provocative pose but…
She had been flayed.
Never had he seen a more piteous and inhumane thing in his life.
Blood was spattered everywhere
dripping from the walls,
flung with glee from a knife that went up and down in a frenzy.
Mr. Dorian stood there in a stupor.
My God, Mr. Dorian what have you done?
Mr. Dorian just stood there, the knife in his hands covered in blood.
The room reeked with the metallic tang of it.
I have to get you home now Mr. Dorian.
Please, let’s go now.
He dragged him from the room and dragged him through Whitechapel
until he got to the main road and hailed a cab.
People assumed in the darkness he was helping a drunken friend home.
He spirited Mr. Dorian into the house.
Stripped him and bathed him several times.
Gutless, gormless, cowardly.
Yes he was all of these but…
The next day Mr. Dorian was back to normal as if nothing had happened.
the butler went about his duties as if nothing had happened.
But no more Whitechapel murders occurred.

photographic image of last letter from Jack the Ripper

The Last Worshipper

For Kerry’s prompt at Real Toads, Art/Flash 55.  Featuring the art of Tomasz Zaczeniuk, surreal artist and photographer from Poland.

The Last Worshipper

“Some things are more precious because they don’t last long.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray heaved a deep rattling sigh –
He stood at the door of the temple. He was the last
person on earth he reckoned.
First the oceans flooded from all of the melted arctic ice.
Then the heat of the sun burned the seas to sand.
What good is living forever if one is alone?
He remembered this beach’s name – Whitby.
He called to mind the brightly colored bath houses.
Now all was silent.
He might as well go inside and go to sleep.
Hopefully he would sleep forever.

Tomasz Zaczeniuk, The Temple
used by permission from the artist

What if?

A poem in my Dorian Gray series.  I had pondered this part of the mythology while working on my MFA but this prompt brought it to the front of my mind.  Merrill is posting today on dVerse Poets Pub. She asks us to ponder time and what if? For once in this series, Dorian shows some mercy.

What if?
The killer had already murdered four women.
A prostitute reached out her scabrous hand to me
and I thought of pushing it away
until I looked in her face.
She was in her 40’s and long past the age of attraction.
Her teeth were black or missing
and she bared her limp breasts for me to see.
What if I pitied her?
What if I just gave her a few shillings?
She would spend it on gin ‘ot instead of
buying a bed for the night.
She would sleep on the street –
A bundle of dirty rags.
What if I just gave her money?
Would it take some of the ugly from my portrait?
Would it roll back to when the portrait was
my current face – young and beautiful?
I pulled out a pound note and put it in her hands.
I told her to go in peace.
She stumbled to the tavern on the corner.
What if she passed out there?
Would she be robbed?
Would the bartender throw her out?
Doesn’t matter.
For once I did something good.
Would it show in my portrait?
I read the next day in the papers
Mary Kelly had been brutally murdered –
Eviscerated, flayed.
I looked at my portrait.
The what if didn’t work.
My portrait was still as old and ugly
as the prostie I gave money to.
What if?
What if?

Whitechapel – 1890

Slice of Pie Glass of Milk

Yet another in my Dorian Gray series.  For Bjorn’s prompt over at dVerse, narrative poetry.


Slice of Pie Glass of Milk
“I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

The servant took his long black coat
dotted with shivering bits of rain.
The young man went into his library
and sat down in a green leather chair
after pouring himself some brandy.
He sat with his feet on the grate warming
his cold feet in their black John Lobb boots.
The servant hovered around him until he said tesity,
“Go away. Take yourself away for the rest of the evening.
I will get something from the larder if I am hungry.”
The servant left gratefully.
Clearly his master was in a foul mood.
The young man drank the brandy
in one pull and got up to pour himself another.
How dare she! How dare she go out with another man.
And laugh at him as she told him where she would be.
He stood outside the restaurant
looking at the two of them –
getting wet and cold,
the rain seeping through his coat.
She looked up and he could swear she saw him.
She turned to her companion and laughed.
He waited outside as the two of them went into the house
and he watched and waited until the bedroom light was darkened.
The rest of the house went silent and still.
He let himself into the house through the garden French doors and
quietly he tiptoed up to her bedroom.
It was but a moment’s work to slit both their throats
and then to go out the way he came.
The rain washed away the blood on his hands.
He felt hungry now and went to the larder.
The young man sliced himself a piece of game pie
and that wonderful cognac and apple pie his French chef had baked.
For good measure he poured himself a glass of milk.
He stuffed himself in front of the fire.
He smiled thinly.
Then he poured himself some more brandy.
Never would he gain weight.
Never would he show the effects of the most horrendous murder.
Warm and cozy now, Dorian Gray dozed in front of the fire,
all anger forgotten.

Reeve Carney as Dorian Gra


The Picture

Another poem in my Dorian Gray series, submitted for Susan’s Midweek Motif at Poets United – sunset.

The Picture
The thin handsome young man stood in his garden
watching it bleed onto the smooth snow.
It was cold but inside the glass conservatory
attached to his home,
roses bloomed – red, orange, yellow, deep pink
echoing the colors of the setting sun.
He breathed vapor in and out,
like a golden dragon
not seeming to feel the cold.
He stood until the last vestige of color
leached from the sky.
In the darkness he stood and finally felt the cold.
He went inside and poured himself a sherry
and quietly walked to the secret chamber.
He looked at the hideous portrait
hidden from view of all except himself.
“Sunset old chap” he murmured.
“It is sunset for you.”
Dorian Gray gave a grim laugh.
“But it is always sunrise for me.”
He lifted the sherry to his lips and drank.


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

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