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Attuned to catch the distant view-halloo

Chapter Text

Silent stroll through din-thorned bramble.
Friends who knew each other well
once upon a spring-day ramble.

Through the Park, the two did amble,
side by side, as robins knell.
Silent stroll through din-thorned bramble.

Elms break out in Nature’s gambol,
faint green shoots toll springtide’s bell
once upon a spring-day ramble.

Chestnuts burst without preamble;
sticky heads ring five-fold pell.
Silent stroll through din-thorned bramble

Theirs, the aimless, graceful shamble-
shuffle ‘neath the chirrups swell
once upon a spring-day ramble.

Puzzles left to piece, unscramble,
Secrets left for time to tell,
Silent stroll through din-thorned bramble
once upon a spring-day ramble.

Chapter Text

Higher
Flier
Wrier
Sprier
Archer aims with higher flier-straight
whilst sleuth sports a wrier, sprier mate.

Chapter Text

in the blood, it is liable to take the strangest coagulations
for its own sake, pleasure’s derived from lowliest manifestations
its absorbing modern mastery provokes the crudest observations

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Because I could not stop for tea
Tea kindly stopped for me
The Trolley held all sorts of fare
The Sweet and Savory.

I swiftly dove – Pangs knew no haste
And soon had put away
a fleet of treats, three decks replete;
squalled a Darjeeling sea.

I ate the Bread, with Butter spread
The Scones – with Cream and Jam
I ate the Buns, Hot Crossed with Plums;
quaffed Cordial by the Dram.

Or rather – Sip by sip
Indeed, the mead exceeded hopes
unspoken. Fancies mixed cue joys
foretoken -- Art and Gin –

We sketched before a man who seemed
so far too overdressed --
I failed to note his seam much less --
which way his crease was pressed --

And then -- to Gin – and Homeward Bound
So glad to miss the Rush
Though left unseen Glasgow’s May Queen,
I’ve got a Royal Flush!

Chapter Text

Dismal England of old. Rife with strife hundred-fold.
Adverts promise fools’ gold. Plots like clots, bloody, bold;
greed’s misdeed; honour sold; foul trickery foretold.
Life in death’s cargo hold; filthy, grim, fog-dim, cold.

Merrie England of ages past. Notions like buttons holding fast
to a Dickens Yuletide repast. Tra-la-la’s ring unsurpassed.
to puzzles solved, resolved at last. To quips and wit and intrigue vast.
To bright futures unharassed. To good’s triumph, woes outcast.

Whether ‘twas dismal or merrie matters not, you see.
I pen what drops the shillings in the purse o’ me.

Chapter Text

Up and down
Our fortunes rode on
Strength of men.
Now we are
Pedalling, moving forward
Under our own steam.

Chapter Text

HOLMES:

A good cyclist doesn’t need a high road

to reach his destination.

A good cyclist doesn’t need a clear day

a vane or weather station.

A good cyclist doesn’t need a flat plain

devoid of undulation.

A good cyclist doesn’t need a bold sign

and lines of demarcation.

 

WATSON: But the bicycle, Holmes?

 

HOLMES: He does not need

He will proceed

Upon spoked steed

‘Cross moor and weed!

 

A good cyclist doesn’t need a fair wind

for his acceleration.

A good cyclist doesn’t need a choice map

for his edification.

A good cyclist doesn’t need a full moon

for his illumination.

A good cyclist doesn’t need a stout boot

for his perambulation.

 

WATSON: But the bicycle, Holmes?

 

HOLMES:

 

He goes along

a-burst with song

legs firm, lungs strong

through fork and prong!

 

A good cyclist doesn’t need a straight path

or steady elevation.

A good cyclist doesn’t need an odd tree

to fix exact location.

A good cyclist doesn’t need a sharp grade

to foster wheel rotation.

A good cyclist doesn’t need a smooth lane

to go without vexation.

 

WATSON:

 

As far as it goes, you’re right, I suppose,

about metal bars, spokes, and rubber hose.

But a different story altogether when it’s cotton, wool, and leather.

Yes, Holmes, it’s not the same, at all, you see,

when the vehicle you’re riding is me!

 

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O, dreary dismal unprofitable world!

Such commonplace crime, commonplace existence.

Dun-coloured houses offer no resistance

to drifting menace, xanthous carpet unfurled.

What use powers ‘pon this field of mist thick, swirled?

The old particulars lacked such persistence,

such hopelessly prosaic, tired insistence

of material which grips with edges knurled.

 

How figures loom, are dimly seen, then retreat

on silent tiger paws into the cloud-bank.

How one might pounce, then fade to droplet and cog

of urbane machinery, mission complete,

assassin’s paradise, pea-souper made rank

by age, rage. O, curtained stage! O, London fog!

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Once upon a Christmas Eve, while I
toiled without reprieve,
Over many a faint and tedious ledger of
mistaken sum—
While I studied, always checking, suddenly
there came a pecking,
As of some one calling, some one becking, with a
steady thrum.
“What’s this creature,” I inquired, “pecking with a
steady thrum—
‘Pon this night of sugar plum?”

spied I, then, through glass darkly, dim, a stately
Raven perched on limb,
I knew his business, he of mourning dress and widow’s
preen, aplomb.
Might persistent was the patter which announced
his urgent matter;
Thus, with Yuletide dread, I harked the night-winged harbinger’s
grave drum—
the ancient crier who caws the hour, but one, with his
grave drum.  
Squawked the bird, “Your doom’s to come!”

But soon, with lip growing stiffer, I politely
begged to differ,
and stole my hand into a bottom drawer,
without squeak or um.  
Fingers sought the silver dagger which cut
Barb’ry pirate’s swagger.
My fate-strings were not his to snip, no, sir, but mine
to play, to strum.
There was much this broad bass-fiddle, yes, sir, had yet
to say, to strum.
Thus, I cried, “Your doom’s to come!”

At my counter-declaration came a squall of
perturbation;
what’s more, beyond the pane, appeared another, smaller,
feathered chum
a second stately well-groomed squire, perched upon
the bough just higher.           
At the arrival of a petite rival, the Raven
fell dumb.
He made not a peep nor mistletoe cheep. The Raven
fell quite dumb
at the squawk, “Your doom’s to come!”

The harbinger society atuned to looming
impropriety
had dispatched to future scene-of-crime a follow-messenger
glum
Many my questions, just one rife: how to kill two birds with
just one knife?
To what foul end might dark portent—and portent’s portent—
succumb?
Might not two fall with proper blade and proper flick of my
left thumb?
Then came a third, “Doom’s to come!”

A third winged-lord, smaller, bolder, perched on bough at
second’s shoulder.
To scale, was he, with matching beak, eyes, caw, and
uropygium.
It would vex the sagest mavens:  how to best
recursive ravens!
This riddle fit for desert Sphinx rendered puzzler
sore-some
as fate of one was quick to multiply to fate of
more-some
I cried, “Too much doom’s to come!”

Then, humbly, did I remember, ‘twas twenty-fourth
of December.
With dagger released, the bell was rung, sprang a hope I’d
yet to plumb.
Atop my desk my odd requests, window opened, I hailed
my guests
The larder mice, the pies of mince, the cakes of seed to
final crumb
washed down with island spirit sweet, then pudding,
a carol to hum,  
“Forget the doom, pass the rum!”

 

Poet's note: Now the morale of this verse, I suppose

is make merry with an unkindness of ravens

Or you'll be guest at a murder of crows 

Chapter Text

The hansom cab. The gaslit street. The fog.

The puzzle rare. The crime. The mystery.

The clever sleuth. The doctor-scribe. The dog.

The known address. The fireside chairs. The tea.

 

The client duped. The Scotland Yard distressed.

The violin. The smoke. The pipe to think.

The dressing gown. The clue. The wrong redressed.

The newspaper. The envelope. The ink.

 

The ill repute. The foreign plot. The scene.

The photograph. The plans. The letters bold.

The very start. The final act. The in-between.

The articles. The stories left untold.

 

A thousand Reichenbach apologies.

A million words, care-sung doxologies.

Chapter Text

Concrete puzzle poem

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Fifty shades…

a bouquet of grey irises: keen, like the quicksilver gleam of a master blackmailer; shifting, like odiousness crafted, framed by white lashes; empty, like the vacancy of the overwrought and hearth-rug-strewn; shrewd, like set-companions for the granite face, iron nerves, and leathery conscience of the successful man of affairs; watery, like the peculiar, far-off introspection of the first-borne.

a grey light: uncertain, like a tinge cast through a solitary window; shimmering, like a copper beech bathed in midnight’s glow; swirling, like the mist of the only highly improbable; polished like the coffee-pot of omniscience; bright, like the moon on the Tor; foreboding, like the dawn of long-shouldered reckoning or a significance of almost-too-late; inevitable, mayhap, if one’s spectacles are tinted.

a wearisome grey metropolis: stone-hard, like the pavement of London-town, dusty, like its streets, dead, like its winter evening’s gloom, slate, like its wind-yielding, brick-wielding roofs; prosaic, so unlike the wispy heather-tuft curve, the gleaming half-shadow companion, of the moor; low, commonplace, so unlike the ancient clay of a Tudor chimney, rising high, crumbling singularly, keeping silent vigil over bucolic wickedness.

a grey rhythm: jaunty, like the dappled double-time clip-clop of unmistakable hooves afore aniseeded wheels; brazen, like the splendid clop-clip of a pair of high-steppers in the shafts of an old yellow barouche; swift, like a Blaze of horseflesh.

a grey cry:  tinkly, like a pane broken by crack-shot aim; jingly, like coins dropped for pity, for work, for play, for ruse, for greed.

a grey noise:  plinking, like the glug of pond-soaked loot, dripping; splashing, like Rapunzel tresses dashed where they lay; quiet, like the press of a note’s blotting, silent, like a treaty unfurled, scratching, like a cypher of revenge.

a drop of grey bitters on the tongue: ashen, like a tell-tale Trichinopoly; pearly, like the chaulk means-end of a point dissolved in milk.

a taste of grey smoke:  burnt, like a coil set to roust a crouching evil; subtle, like the perfumed exhale of a dove suspended in air.

a touch of a grey pair of trousers: baggy, like the shepherd’s check of a ginger fool; coarse, like the Harris tweed of a phantom angel; soft, like the swagger of flannel beneath a Panama.

a lady’s grey: worn, like a typewritist’s glove; smooth, like a tidy little handbag of crocodile skin; coldly comforting, like old Spanish pendant within reach; silky, like a dress, trimmed with ostrich feathers; sombre, like a dress, untrimmed, unbraided, yet unmatched in memory; portentous, like a shock of grey in the dark near-doom of a step-daughter.

a grey Sherlock Holmes: warm, like a long cloak that shields ‘gainst journey’s soot; icy, like veins frozen to bursting by anger’s sudden winter storm; supple, like the plumes of a lank bird at study; variable, like austere clouds parting to reveal a fundament of twinkling amusement; quick, like darting questioning glances in every direction; sharp, like rapiers; mouse, like the embrace of an old familiar dressing gown.

…of Victorian grey.

Chapter Text

Ice skating

We slip, slide. Gloves grip as grins glide,
yours curtly cutting, mine churlish chutting.
Our skates scrape, skit, skirt, flit, flirt,
fillet fresh-eyed fish under-boots brute.
Silent sound, urge unfound
to tell truths knighted, nimble-nice
We weave, dodge on thimble-thin ice.

 

Holmes & Watson's Ice Dance

My entreaties endeavour
to cleave claws, handsome, clever
from ‘round-pond skating, skirting.
They toy, tease, ever flirting
‘bout timely topics, now’s news.
My pink point, would they peruse,
chance, charm, ere the sport grows cold.

Chapter Text

Miss Violet Hunter, head of school,

had many codes but just one rule.

She shepherded her lambs with care,

attended matters miniscule,

but never, ever cut her hair.

 

One day, a tiny tempest swirled

into Miss Hunter’s ordered world.

Before the school, a carriage crashed,

and from its bow, a lord was hurled.

The teachers screamed. The pupils dashed.

 

Miss Hunter followed in their wake,

concerned life, limb might be at stake.

From carriage wrecked and scene disturbed

emerged one jolly, muddy rake

and gent’s own gent most unperturbed.

 

“What ho, what ho!” the rake exclaimed.

“Old Yaxley’s Lord, though Bertie named.”

He smoothed his hair. He brushed his sleeves.

“Don’t fret. Just bent. Nothing maimed.

And this, you see, is my man Jeeves.”

 

“This time machine’s bit rummy, no?

To make the thingagummy go

is nothing like my two-seater.

Just hang on tight, cry, ‘Mummy! Whoa!’

Then, ‘What, ho!’ on quick repeater.”

Some girls a-titter, some agog.

most teachers staring, in a fog

Miss Hunter solemnly took charge,

invited rake and gent’s stuffed frog

to school. ‘Not types to be at large.’

 

Miss Hunter thought. The rake’s odd charm

did much to gallantly disarm

with jaunty step and curious tongue

the fears and doubts of miss and marm.

And very soon, heads, hearts were won.

 

Miss Hunter herself much preferred

a company much less absurd,

so whilst the valet tended clothes

Miss Vi stood by, chatted, observed

‘There’s quite a lot this man Jeeves knows.’

 

The lord was forced to wear, meantime,

Nick’s robe from Christmas pantomime,

not having garb for gents about.

He feasted, frolicked, looked sublime.

and even passed term prizes out!

 

Miss Hunter showed Jeeves ‘round the grounds.

Affection grew by leaps and bounds,

exchange of wisdoms practical

whilst ol’ St. Nick taught ‘hare and hounds’

and whatzits most didactical.

A picnic followed, then some songs

‘Minnie Moocher’ in flutes and gongs.

Then master bid their steed set right.

“One must return where one belongs.”

A sad-eyed Jeeves said, “Yes, sir. Quite.”

 

Miss Hunter watched Jeeves fix the coach

and felt, for once, the need to broach

her murky past ‘mongst copper trees.

The tale was told without reproach,

but brought the valet to his knees.

 

“Les mots justes, I’m compelled to say,

vous êtes une femme formidable.”

Miss Hunter blushed. He took her hand.

“I wish—" he said. Said she, “Don’t stay.

He’d miss you more. I understand.”

 

At guests’ farewell, all were waving,

brimmed with ways of misbehaving

“Home, Jeeves! No horses shall you spare!”

Stiff nods ‘twas all hearts dared braving

ere coach became a puff of air.

 

The days were long, with vexation

Then there he was! With elation,

he smiled, then bowed, bid, “May I stay?”

then offering curt explanation:

“He took up the banjolele.”

Like hands inside well-tailored gloves,

like pairs of clever turtle doves,

they fit and met with much success.

And now each night Miss Hunter loves

that her long hair is deftly pressed.

 

Chapter Text

The virtue of the violet is

faithfulness. Words spoken with

pride, in defense of honor true,

when love is silent, buried, slain.

 

Sweet like birdsong, spring morn’s dew,

the virtue of the violet is

the joy of rustic happiness,

pedaling down the country lane.

 

A catching eye, a straining ear,

a care-placed step in noon-day dark,

the virtue of the violet is

watchfulness, vigilance well-masked.

 

Faith in treachery, joy in ease,

blindness to danger, these burdens

rest on she who will not know what

the virtue of the violet is.

Chapter Text

A dainty blend of vermillion and green

a-droop arrests those curious eyes of his;

it sparks a light of something novel, keen

and cry of ‘What a lovely thing this is!’

 

‘So unlike bread, this handsome bloom; indeed,

its scent and colour, life’s embellishments,

they rise above the base of human need

and manifest the good of Providence.

 

For only goodness give gifts like these,

so far from the necessity of life.

Assurance, this, I seek, I find, I seize

in coarsest days, in times of trouble, strife.

 

When all is said and written, I propose,

we’ve much to hope for in this,’ sigh, ‘this rose!’

Chapter Text

Beneath the violet-coloured sky, a violet-coloured field exhaled its perfumed breath,
its scent as known to all as English garden prose, as heralded for loveliness.
It vowed to work-worn maid, domestic sweetness, and to doomed crusader, fragrant death.
A prim bouquet of purple blooms as strong and true as milky tea with governess.
So commonplace its charm, so near, so dear, ubiquitous its spell to have under
The one, the all, these three, to have beneath the sky, betwixt the stems of lavender.

~ Ours was a lavender marriage ~

We walked beneath a plum-wine sky and drank too deep of heady fields of lavender
and hand in hand in hand decided path too short for other’s rules to live under.
Let true affection guide our steps, said we, not nurs’ry governess with milky tea,
and so, we laid beneath the sky and strew about bouquets of little, fragrant deaths
and wondered, as we wished our craft of three a maiden voyage calm on tumult sea,
how long had we to reap this love, to exhale sweet perfume and never catch our breaths.

Chapter Text

Exalted is the name, shouted from the rooftops, of the natural philosopher who sets his peers’ cobwebbed doctrines aflame with the fruits of his abstruse efforts, the heating of retorts and the distillation of vapours.

But woe is the name, shouted from windows flung open, of the incorrigible tenant, of the insufferable co-lodger, who sets his landlady’s curtains, and his companion’s Clark Russell, afire with the sparks of wick’d and wicked burners, condemning all to a collective fit of the vapours.

Chapter Text

In the year eighteen-forty,
orange blossoms for the bride
in manner regal, courtly.
Dye was cast as tears were cried.

“Orange blossoms for the bride?”
“If Venus’ car too rare.”
Dye was cast as tears were cried.
“I’ve two grooms too rapt to care.”

“If Venus’ car too rare,
why not a common laurel?
I’ve two grooms too rapt to care
about my choices floral.”

“Why not a common laurel
in manner regal, courtly?”
About my choices floral,
in the year eighteen-forty,
dye was cast as tears were cried.

Chapter Text

Arose,
providentially-bestowed gift, mine,
senses-all, with wealth, observe
see here, smell here,
oil and water of aroma un-mixing,
muddling scent-hound following fragrant trail.
Absolute in fortune-seeking, darkness-cloaked villains betray
embellishments. Life’s
pieces puzzle like ruffled petals pink.
Mystery, like
scent, is distilled
times hundred,
a unfolding
love
of
Otto
of
love,
unfolding a
hundred times,
distilled, is scent.
Like mystery,
pink petals ruffled like puzzle pieces,
life’s embellishments,
betray villains. Darkness-cloaked, fortune-seeking in absolute
trail fragrant following, hound-scent muddling,
un-mixing aroma of oil and water.
Here smell, here see,
observe wealth with all senses,
mine gift, bestowed providentially,
a rose.

Chapter Text

So Watsick, and the slothing sloves

Do glume and glomphrum ‘bout the frem

No whimsy for one’s cricket-hoves

And the lingsters must rehm.

 

“Begone these Rye-tricks, oh, my woes,

the tendrils foul, mendacious plague

of mineral-speckled spite that goes

pum-TUM, like spectral vague.”

 

Cruel sword and shield refuse to speak

and trenchant stains the yearnament

abound elixirs, foolscap, teak

a tea-soaked firmament.

 

Whilst bogged in slogamund repose

I spy the Rye-tricks seeping in.

They ither-ick of slime most crowse

a silent seeping din.

 

Thud-shug upon the steps and rug,

and pests all fade like autumn misted

all banish-ed, all drained pull-plug

with draught of joy untwisted.

 

“Oh, shall my days be Watswell ones,

rye-tricks made sticks for treacle fire?

To death well-put what grain begun,

restored soul’s calm desire.”

No Watsick, no more slothing sloves

no gluming glomphrum-rumping frems

bouquets for all the cricket-hoves,

and just one lingster rehms.

 

"Oh, Holmes," I sighed. "I was only gone a week!"

Chapter Text

Though spring was springing everywhere,

singing like a lark,

‘twas shoot of March, not April’s buds,

which, ‘pon me, scratched a mark;

‘a line of least resistance’ quest

led me across the Park.

 

From Park to Lane, that eventide

washed up like unsliced bread

upon the pavement, I looked up

at window overhead

and wished a lively plain-clothes sleuth

a dapper one, long-dead.

 

Disgusted, I withdrew and turned,

but then, to my chagrin,

I trod upon a poor old man

and to compound the sin,

a few of his much-treasured tomes

were sent to ground, a-spin.

 

Once set to rights, with snarl, he fled,

Still puzzled, I adjourned

to study for to brood upon

the mystery concerned

And, lo! In haste appeared the man

whose books I’d overturned.

 

He offered me a British Birds.

He offered Catallus

He offered me The Holy War

in volumes numerous,

He bid me pardon for his gruff

with charm quite humourous.

 

I turned away, then turned right back

and, much to my surprise,

there stood a ghost where peddler’d been

I stared with wild surmise

until a swooning mist fogged all

before my very eyes.

 

I must have been mistaken, no,

I must have been confused.

Of such a notion crazed my mind

must soon be disabused.

I tasted brandy on my lips

and then, the haze diffused.

 

Believe the unbelievable,

it seemed a Hobson’s choice,

but for familiar turn of phrase

in well-remembered voice.

A spirit carved of flesh and bone,

a reason to rejoice!

 

“Apologies one thousand, friend,

and pardons even more

for such a shock and three years’ pain,

I’ve much to answer for.

A shameful bit of drama this,

to shake you to the core.”

 

“But can it be?” I cried aloud,

releasing sinew thin.

Then, scarcely trusting senses mine

I grasped his arms again.

“But, tell me how you came alive

expelled from death’s own den.”

 

“The time has come,” my old friend said,

“To talk, to tell, to share:

Of Falls and stalls and funeral palls

Of plans made wet, laid bare.

And how to best escape a trap

is never to be there.

 

My note to you was true enough.

Your note, I knew, pretense

to quit from play my strongest piece,

to weaken my defense.

Upon your exit, I prepared

for confrontation tense.

 

My enemy appeared forthwith.

We sparred with word and fist.

But in the end, ‘twas him, not me

who perished in the mist.

But ere he reached his grave, I had

my plan to not exist.

 

To sweep the whole of spider’s web,

to see its ruin through

to live as ghost, a clever scheme

but to a friend, to you

conscripted unawares and pained

a dismal thing to do.

 

I traveled south, I traveled east

I traveled far and wide

as mouse to Moriarty’s cats

in game of seek-and-hide,

lamenting with each breath the lack

of Watson by my side.

 

But one foe left, I thought of home,

and then the Park Lane case

arose. I dare not waste the chance

to claim my name, my place,

my work, my address, most of all,

my Boswell’s shining face.

 

There’ll be more time, my dear old man,

to talk of three years gone,

but now’s the hour for action swift.

May I rely upon

your loyal aid, your shrewd response,

and, mayhap, your pistol drawn?”

 

“They’re yours, of course, whenever bid,”

I swore with solemn truth.

“Hurrah,” he cried. “Ere dawn, we’ll have

that tiger by the tooth!”

“And then?” he said. “It’s home,” I said.

“for Doctor and his Sleuth.”

 

Chapter Text

perfume
seventy-five
in bloom

scents loom
in air, alive,
the room

consume
all breath, they thrive
entomb

 

I think
dear Mister Holmes
you stink!

Don't blink
or it's all down
the sink!

Don't wink
my patience's on
the brink!

Chapter Text

Lady Fran

from fry pan

to fire ran,

flee a man,

snag a plan.

 

Underground                                 

folly drowned

‘til bone-mound

spoke profound,

hare turned hound.

I once believed flaws to be physically burdensome, invisible weights which compounded over a lifetime, curling the spine; now I know: weakness, and, yes, sin, is confining, rigidly suffocating like the wooden walls of this double-berth coffin.

Each mistake, misstep, misjudgment, misperception that I have committed since memory began, upon its consideration, takes the form of a moth, with fluttering wings that caress my desiccated skin and tiny mouths that nip at the chloroformed cotton-wool swathing my head.

I should have been more guarded around the Reverend Doctor Shlessinger and his sister, less taken in by their performances of piety. I should have left my jewels in the bank. I should have been cleverer in eluding Philip.

I should have…I should have…I should have…

I should have taken Marie into my full confidence, and if not Marie, then someone. I should have written to Susan of the whole matter. I should have known what trustworthy looked like.

But how? I do not even trust myself.

Nevertheless, for all I’ve done and all I’ve failed to do, I have paid. In physical suffering. In mental torment. In the cold slap of a hand and the cold slap of the realisation that were it not for my obstinacy at having my pretty things near, I might just be alive.

Instead of alive, buried.


The moths nibble at my swaddling until I dare open my eyes.

I can see, but it is a strange sight.

I have shifted since my interment, turned like a roasting suckling on a spit, and now I face my fellow-lodger.

She is an emaciated figure, a wornout wreck. Her shriveled skull cracks and she squawks like a parrot.

“I’m Rose.”

The moths have provisioned me with an egress for speech, too.

“I’m Frances.”

“Go on. Go on.”

The moths swarm ‘round my mouth, taking hold of my tongue and pulling gently. The bandages prevent any movement of my head, so I must wait until the procession crosses my line of vision.

The moths float, bearing a thin, trailing ribbon upon which is written:

stupidity, ignorance, fragility, pride, childishness, unkindness, despair, denial, greed, sloth

With every word, a bit of life-breath departs. I expel the last as the wooden walls press. No tears survive for the last rite. Then…

snap!

The tail of the ribbon ripples by, then disappears in the cavernous maw of my companion. She swallows the moths, too, and with a coquettish twinkle in sunken sockets, cries,

“No lust?”

“I never acted upon my lusts. They are not, in themselves, confessable.”

She tut-tuts. She tsk-tsks.

“You are one of the most dangerous classes in the world.”

I blush.

Lady Frances Carfax


“It’s ready,” says Marie.

She’s worked her delicate hands to bleeding with the shovel. I have aided her in the task when I haven’t been carving the word ‘coarse’ and ‘rough’ into the flesh of the Honorable Phillip Green.

Un véritable sauvage?” I ask, studying my handiwork. The memory of a scullery maid lays as heavy and cold on my breast as a Spanish brooch.

Susan snorts. “Let me finish him. For little Annie. And her mum.”

I nod and hand her the knife.

I waste no time with the Revered Doctor Shlessinger. I do, however, with his missus, but it is time, indeed, wholly wasted for she never ceases her foul blathering and her horrid screeching and her demon hissing. She dies as blind and cruel as she lived, but I pity her enough to dig a separate grave, that she might have what she once denied, the dignity of being buried alone.

Everything is scrubbed and swept and burned, and we sleep for days in an odd little configuration of beds and cots that suits us just fine. When we wake, I invite Mister Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson to dine, and one day, the latter arrives bearing the former’s apologies.

Doctor Watson pronounces the roasted chicken most toothsome, and we, three foxes, look at each other and beam.

Chapter Text

a quickening, thickening, dazzling snow

a twirly, swirly, whirly, snip-laced shawl

a twilight-ning, tree-whit’ning crystal show

a crisscross, whisk-frost, hurry-curried fall

 

I sit and watch from cosy cat-like perch

whilst scent of vintage grape-gasp spiced to mull

perfumes our quiet haven like a church,

with naught but vintage snores to crack the lull.

 

oh, bite-ful, frightful, skeleton-grip cold

oh, lashing, gnashing wind of wasp-like sting

oh, bitter rogue no cell could ever hold

oh, numb-dumb trudge-ons that its bludgeons bring.

 

I gaze, transfixed, by bleakest blank tableau

content to gawk whilst I’ve nowhere to go!

 


At the press of lips to my neck, I started, surprised that I hadn’t noted the absence of snoring or the approaching shuffle of worn slippers.

“Snow storms, too, my dear Watson? And here I thought my only rival for your attention were those bloody seed catalogues.”

“Shall we discuss the bees?” I retorted, wrenching my gaze from the winter scene beyond the pane to raise an eyebrow and cast a hard look behind me.

“Oh, is that mulled wine I smell?” he remarked off-handedly before planting a quick kiss on my cheek and beating a hasty retreat to the kitchen.

Chapter Text

At spring’s first breath, we burst like song upon the earth.

My spade’s sharp blade awakes the sleeping soil like drum.

From skep to shed, your head, like bees, flit-flirts, at hum.

At toil, we grunt like swine as winter’s schemes give birth.

No time for tea, we work, aware of each hour’s worth.

I heave great stones abed and sow fine pips a-thrum.

You fret, inspecting combs a-piece and hives in sum.

At dusk, we rush, compelled by dying light, warmth’s dearth.

 

But why? I catch your eye and wonder why we choose

to toil like burdened beasts on such a festooned day

The beasts themselves, the birds and bees and beetles, too,

are drawn and driven. We, in autumn’s stage, might lose

an afternoon to watching tender shoots at sway

on spring’s first breath and leave for ‘morrow ‘morrow’s due.

 


“Come on! Let’s take a walk. It will all be there tomorrow.”

“It might rain tomorrow.”

“My knee says it won’t, and as if a bit of rain would stop you.”

You’re stopping me.”

“Let’s take advantage of such a day.”

“That’s just what I was doing!”

“It’s too glorious to potter about.”

“That’s not what I was doing.”

“We’re retired. What is the point of retirement if one works as hard, but without compensation?”

“There is compensation, perhaps not financial.”

“Look at the sky. What is the name of that purple flower?”

“I haven’t a clue.”

“You are retired.”

Chapter Text

A languid rose-head heaves a weary sigh

and droops, pink petals scorched, pale perfume rank,

while gossamer silks spread, then cease to be

a-flutter, folding slowly, by the by,

resigned to stillness, save the fan of frank

miasma, summer’s hazy waves of sea.

 

Not us, for we are truant little boys

at heart, too full of mischief, tad-pole prank,

We race towards sky, say farewell merrily

to land, good day to blissful summer joys,

One, two—wheeee!

 


“It’s too hot to potter about.”

“It’s too hot to move.”

“No breeze at all. Even in the shade, it’s dismal.”

“Nothing to be done, my dear man.”

“No! There is something!”

“What are you doing?”

“Finding my bathing costume, then racing you.”

“What?! Racing me to where?”

“To Lover’s Leap!”

“You’re mad.”

“Perhaps a touch of sun, but I’m so tired of wilting and sweating.”

“Your knee…”

“Damn, my knee!”

“Good Lord! You’re serious. All right, all right, let’s go—wait, winner’s prize?”

“Dishes for a week?”

“Deal. And first turn as ‘wicked sea monster’?”

“Good Lord! You’re on!”

Chapter Text

The world is draining fast of colour, light

and warmth. Midsummer’s bouquet giving way

to withered shades of brown and brittle blight,

the hues of fallen trees that seep decay.

 

Encroaching night, which casts a greying pall

on all, which pilfers vernal-minted coins of gold,

enchants a tempest-dirge, a dark-cloud squall

of doubt and melancholy manifold.

 

The cold! Oh, worst of all, the chill that creeps!

Its tendrils curl ‘round breath and pulse like vines.

The bitter company it mulls and keeps

the wormwood ciders, the rotten, rancid wines.

 

But autumn’s rich designs!

of honeyed crimson, pumpkin, aubergine

of cloaked embrace, warm brush of candle sheen.

 


“You ruined my sonnet, Watson!”

“Hello to you, too. Your sonnet was gloomy. I gave it a volta.”

“It’s meant to be gloomy—all the way through. It’s about autumn.”

“Autumn’s lovely.”

“Autumn’s hideous.”

“You overdid it yesterday.”

“You’re not my—!”

“What?”

“Sorry.”

“The liniment I ordered arrived at the post office. It will do you a world of good.”

“Liniment? Ugh. Autumn’s hideous.”

“Autumn’s lovely. And so are you. And don’t think of it as liniment, think of it as balm, which will be very lovingly applied while the cider warms.”

“Cider? Well, you still ruined my sonnet.”

Chapter Text

Miss Mary

life’s very

unwary

canary

to bury

 

plop! plop! plop!

out damned pop

angel swap

with a lop

full glott stop

 


“Oh, God.”

Two gurgles.

Two slumps. Two thumps.

Two teacups crashing onto the table, rolling, then dropping onto the floor.

There are many ways to murder one’s family, I suppose. Arsenic in the tea’s as good as any.

…your fiancé, Mister Hosmer Angel…your stepfather, James Windibank…the loss of a hundred a year…

My question is: is it my eyes or my mind which failed me as badly as my mother and father?

Eyes.

If I had seen clearly, I would have recognised the deceit. I would have known that my fiancé, Hosmer Angel was, in fact, also my stepfather, James Windibank. My mother and my stepfather counted on my blindness as much as they counted on my hundred pounds a year.

Well, they will count on neither and nothing else, ever again.

Corrective lenses are not the answer, for hadn’t my Angel worn tinted glasses?

The answer is to rid myself of what cannot be trusted.

Two are gone. Two are left.

“Oh, God.”

I do not recognise the deep baritone, nor do I stir.

I sit, still and silent, on the kitchen floor, propped against a wall with, like Lucia of Syracuse, a large curling frond of a scarlet feather in one hand and my eyes on a saucer in the other.

Such is the punishment for betrayal.


“Oh, God.”

Doctor Watson’s face is buried in the basin of my cupped hands.

“I’m so terribly sorry,” he mutters, then the weight of his head, the touch of his features, the warmth of his choked sob, are gone, leaving behind tears and a smear of wax whose scent will linger long after he has taken his leave.

“Mister Holmes and I owe you a thousand apologies, Miss Sutherland. We had no idea that you be so affected.”

Men’s are the foulest of melodies, and what they do not know about me could fill the firmament.

Nevertheless, I like Doctor Watson. His voice is like Harris tweed or the coat of a well-brushed spaniel.

“You will receive the best of care. Of no less quality than your legal counsel. Anything you require, please, beg it of us.”

Shall I beg his silence that I might hear the birds in the trees and not his warbling?

“Thank you, Doctor Watson.”

“But, Miss Sutherland…”

The mirrors.

He, like everyone, wants to take the mirrors from my eyes, but he shan’t have them. I want every look to be cast back at the gazer.

They do not understand me? They do not understand themselves.

They pity me? They pity themselves.

They are disgusted? Well.

“Not until an acceptable alternative presents itself.”

I hear his solemn bow.


“You have a visitor, Miss Sutherland.”

Damn!

I sit up.

Sparrows flee. Seed spills.

Harris tweed?

I sniff.

Unlikely, unless he’s shaved his moustache.

“Miss Sutherland, my name is Eugenia Ronder.”

There is a something in her voice, something that is not pity or curiosity or disgust or bafflement.

“I am an acquaintance of Mister Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.”

Ah, client.

“Doctor Watson thought…”

Oh, bother what Doctor Watson thinks!

“Miss Ronder…”

“I am widow, and I’d rather you call me….”

“And I’d rather you call tomorrow. A pair of sparrows were just about to nest in my eyes.”

“Unlikely. You are using the wrong seed.”

“How do you know?”

“I was once part of a circus. Any animal that could be tamed was.”

“Bring me the right seed, and you may tell me your story.”

“Oh, God.”

I see the blue bottle of Prussic acid so clearly that I can smell its almond exhale when uncorked.

“I’ve wanted to come for some time, but I dared not until…”

“I grew weary of reflecting other’s shame. I prefer listening to the birds, but my eyes are too small for proper nests.”

“But not too small for proper perches.”

Two noises. Two spasms of air.

“I have not laughed for a very long time, Miss Sutherland.”

“It is like birdsong.”

Mary Sutherland

Chapter Text

Poor Lady Bea

decidedly

un-sportingly

died quietly

‘midst fly and flea.

Beast’s burden clipped

yet well-equipped

to add postscript

to life foul-gripped,

cruel-binned in crypt.


She calls me her one true love, and perhaps I am, for I do love her and have loved her since my eyes first opened.

My place is at her heel. That is where I belong.

She reads me stories and calls me her knight-errant.

She errs.

I love her, but my love cannot save her, neither from the greed that surrounds her nor the weakness of her own heart.

She calls me her darling, her joy.

Sometimes her eyes are hungry. Sometimes she bids me lie beside her.

I do, but as soon as her breath evens, I slip to the rug.

She calls me her handsome lad. She brushes my coat for hours, stroke by stroke, from pleasure to numbness.

My favourite hour is when we visit the stables. Only then is there a bit of slack in the lead of her love. While she showers affection on the Shoscombe Prince, I sneak away to watch the Duke.

He is slower than the Prince but not nearly as haughty.

I watch his galloping legs. I woof my shameless appreciation.

He trots toward the fence. He bends his head.

I sniff. He sniffs.

He snorts. I bark. We race.

But far too soon the race is over.

She calls me her everything, her God and her all.

Poor Lady Beatrice.


Shoscombe spaniel

Her hand reaches for me, then droops.

I bark my alarm, my fear, and, as it turns out, my farewell.

Whispers.

They smell fouler than ever. They carry her away.

I am her knight-errant. My place is by her side!

I follow. I bark.

They remove her to the well-house.

I howl their treachery, my pain, into the night’s sky.

My love! My lady! Trapped!

Boot-kick. Banishment.

My place is by her side!

I flee the inn as soon as I arrive.

I’m caught.

Mad for the loss of her, I am tethered and left to mourn in a corner.

Until.

Until a fellow arrives asking what I am worth.

To one, I am worth everything.

Her God and her all!

The fellow takes my lead.

We journey home.

My lady! My love!

Loosed, I charge!

No!

Not her, but a beast wrapped in her scents and her sounds.

Where is she, you blackguard?

Where?

Where?

“…Dogs don’t make mistakes…”

This fellow is an intelligent breed. I might offer my services as companion if the position were not already filled.

I remain at his heel for the afternoon. My reward is a handsome trout, the first food that has tempted since her hand drooped.

At night, I follow this smart fellow to the old chapel and

find her

reduced to

bones.


I fly to Duke’s stall. In the morning, when they try to remove me, he makes such a disturbance that they allow me to stay. After that, I spend most of my days around the stables, free come and go as I please.

Oh, the leadless life!

Sometimes, I howl for sheer joy.

My love for her fades with every butterfly chased. There is no heel, no hunger, nothing to beg obedience, save a memory.

This memory I keep, however, for a little while longer. I was never her knight-errant, but I find myself very much wanting to be her avenger.

I watch him, the one who so often made her cry and curse and reach for me, and after many moons, I spy him heading towards the old chapel.

I hurry ahead of him and silently flatten myself across one of the steps that lead down to the stone box which holds her bones.

When the moment arrives, his boot is so sharp and heavy that I fear it may break my back in half. Nevertheless, when its weight and its violence are upon me, I summon all her love and distill all my rage.

And rise.

Neither his scream of terror nor his gasp of comprehension nor even the snap of his neck is drowned out by my barking.

 

Chapter Text

1. March. Blows in proud King.
Blows out woman. The Woman.
Storm turned farewell breeze.

2. league of autumn hues
fiery red drawn (to, by) gold
(falls, is run) to ground

3. Love’s spring hides winter’s
avarice. The seasons of
Mary Sutherland.

4. June’s glass, unlike past,
twenty-nine, holding steady
in Boscombe Valley.

5. Equinoctial gale
gives the innocent, guilty
the September pip.
 
6. Orange blossom brides
left for season-less den,
a twisted June Boone.

7. Holly and Mercy,
Yuletide spirits are best served
when your goose is cooked.

8.  home-grown wickedness
exotic menagerie
fear’s no April fool

9. midsummer garden
beds of bloomin’ trick-me-lots
a phantom green thumb

10. bleak autumnal eve
relics, noble and less so,
throw their weight about

11. bright February
sun on snow dazzles like gems
blinds like gold-set truth

12. flight from yellow fog
a certain Copper horror
a nip in the air

Chapter Text

A is for Abernettys who peddled gutter-soup,

the family recipe be-spoilt by herb-in-butter droop.

B is for British barrow and the horrors it contained:

an ancient curse preserved in verse; a corpse intact, de-veined.

C is for Crosby, banker drained by repulsive leech.

“Stop! That sucker’s my aunt!” ‘twas his last beseech.

D is for Dundas, who threw teeth at the missus,

just ‘cause there ‘weren’t no bite in ‘em kisses.’

E is for Etheredge, the incorrigible ‘Wolf!’ crier

who went out for a smoke and came back on fire.

F for Farintosh who lost her tiara

trading her jewels for the Devil’s chimaera.

G is for Grice Pattersons on the island of Uffa

breeding dogs with sheep to much sorrow and ‘Woof-ba!’

H is for Huret, that bane of French streets,

wrung to death by a char with the week’s dirty sheets.

I is for Isidora, he of maddening worm,

whose spoon-bait for jack made all the docs squirm.

J is for James, Saunders and Phillimore

the latter met former when a skin umbrella tore.

K is for King, the one in Scandinavia;

whose favourite butter-knife was found underground in Belgravia.

L is for Lizard, that Monstrous Gila,

who took her act on the road as ‘la belle Fork-Tongued Lila.’

M is for Merridew of Abominable Memory

forgot he wasn’t dead, nor kings Richard or Henry.

N is for Netherland-Sumatra Co.

that paid interest in feet, dividend in toe

O is for Old Baron Dowson

who raised vampire bats by the hundred and thousand

P for Politician who trained the clever cormorant,

but expired at a recital of Shelley’s ‘Sensitive Plant’

Q is for Queen whose knighthood was refused

for a slight ‘bout Watson’s kite that could not be excused.

R is for Railway Porter who had a rare habit

of petting his uniform and wearing his rabbit

S is for Sultan, the one of Turkey

pressed ‘tween bread, twixt cheese off ‘n’ ‘cress murky.

T is for Tankerville, where the club’s fraught with scandal

of a card-cheating Pope and his short Roman candle.

U is for Unfortunate, like that Madame Monpensier,

whose strings got yanked by an incensed puppeteer.

V is for Van, like the one in Grosvenor Square,

chocked full of legs, but not one table or chair.

W is for Wilson, he who trained poor canaries

that sang off-tune hymns and the odd ‘Aviary Mary’s.

X is for ex-Presidente Murillo

whose papers were hidden in bone-crafted bureau.

Y is for Young Perkins, killed in a bar

who choked on a joke that didn’t get very far.

Z is for Zu Grafenstein, Count Von und

saved from a Nihilist to die hot-cross-bunned.

Chapter Text

I have breathed thirty miles of Surrey air

this morning.

I have appetite for three, with room to spare

this morning.

But what a grand ol’ story I’ve to share

this morning.

A fitting end to the whole affair

this morning.

Dear Watson, you must with me bear

this morning.

And Mister Phelps, oh, do take care

this morning,

For my tale waits on this fine bill of fare

this morning.

Curried fowl! Ham and eggs—without compare

this morning!

Can’t wait to feast upon this toothsome pair

this morning

For I’ve breathed thirty miles of Surrey air

this morning!

Chapter Text

If

breath was

smoke, you would

surely follow it

home.

 

What

wife e’er

suffered such

a mistress as

this!

 

The

lantern’s

lit each night

to guide your way

back.

 

I

look for

the lantern

each night, long for

home.

 

I

crave my

mistress and

loathe my very

soul.

 

Oh,

wicked

choice that I

can no longer

choose!


One day the tide will turn, and the shore littered with broken promises will be greater than the sea of our love.

And then I will leave everything behind.

In anger. In despair.

That day is coming, but it is not here.

Not yet.

Three days. He has never been gone three days before.

I fear the unimaginable, a shadow more obscure that nightmare, more horrifying than death.

What to do?

Mary. Her husband—James? John?—is a doctor. They will help.

But before I leave, I place the oil lamp in the window.

Because the tide has not turned.

Not yet.


There are no windows, but then there is nothing to see with eyes open. We all slip out through the tops of our heads and float in the ether like down on the breeze.

Is it day? Or night?

If it is night, then there will be a glow in a window.

I strain to see with eyes closed, but emotions, not light, surface.

Guilt, sorrow, shame…too much pain.

The only remedy is to breathe deeply and keep breathing until the pain disappears, until looking for the light is forgotten.

A shake. A grip to my shoulders.

“Whitney! Doctor Watson.”

 

 

 

 

.

Chapter Text

Why should mere hands hold my attention so? For

what are hands but fingers and thumbs and lined palms;

mottled, plastered, calloused and acid-stained skin;

canvas a-drape bone?

 

Yet. Your hands provoke that which I dare not…not…

How they grasp all, point the way, clench in rage,

fragile philosophical instruments tuned

finely, carefully.

 

I know I stare longer than prudent or wise.

Puppetry or sleight of magician. Art made

flesh and dwelt amongst us. Or is it just me?

Best be rid of it.

 

I cannot avoid observation, but might

forestall comment frank if I forced myself to

look upon the beautiful as if they were

unremarkable.

Chapter Text

They paved the road the year King Edward took his seat.
The grandest spectacle it made,
the talk of tea and toast, a chin-wagging treat,
the British Empire on parade.
At Rovers Return pub, where all the thirsty meet,
all pints were raised to the king’s health
while passed us by all the king’s wealth,
a pageantry prolonged, a drama bittersweet.
Though sleuth who once refused a queen
was not amongst the knights on scene,
for knights are few, our avenue’s trod by working feet
in worker’s boots, a-watch, in crowd,
for intrigue’s rife as kitchen sink, as indiscrete.
As soldiers marched, eyes glowed proud,
out-reign a king will our Coronation Street.

Chapter Text

When sheer inanity is at apogee

and men choose primate over growing old

the only sanity is a cup of tea.

 

A Doña’s vampire spree? What insanity!

But less bizarre than sinister truth-told

when sheer inanity is at apogee.

 

When a gift of a pearl of a mystery

yields promise and sorrow worth more than gold,

the only sanity is a cup of tea.

 

A steaming cup restores a sleuth’s humanity

when following the scent false of will o’ wisps bold,

when sheer inanity is at apogee.

 

When performing pious acts of charity

and one’s confronted by Death’s own, paroled,

the only sanity is a cup of tea.

 

When a Yarder casts aside his vanity

and asks for help, tea soothes the bruise ten-fold.

When sheer inanity is at apogee

the only sanity is a cup of tea.

Chapter Text

I, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
would rather be boiled in a vat of hot oil
than have a true Renaissance vocation
reduced to him, that tiresome creation.
Why, oh, why is this world so remiss?
Won’t you recall who brought skiing to the Swiss?
And the war! Which? Why, the Boer!
You’d think that the world might
since it made me a knight.
What about bodybuilding? And Portsmouth United?
But do let’s forget when my cricket kit ignited
[Ball to matches in pocket. I went up like a rocket.]
I solved crimes! I wrote history!
I even went looking for Agatha Christie!
So many answers to so many calls,
save for those cottage girls and their damned paper dolls!
And, uh, that once I nearly poisoned myself.
Oh, why doesn’t Professor Challenger sit as proud on the shelf?
Oh, well. If you must
remember me thus
I suppose
I’ll lie in repose
he who created the world’s greatest sleuth, or so the world claims,
he who begat Sherlock Holmes
and his loyal chronicler
James.

Chapter Text

New knots?
Old lacer
got
boot!

Chapter Text

O, there, before our eyes, your words made flesh suspended.
How great, indeed, the issue that hangs from a mere lace,
There, son and heir, on whom so many, much depended!

You study noose while I, the harvested form and face.
Our journeys end in no lover’s meeting, but one thought:
a strap to bind soul to God is of uncommon place.

But where, oh, where could such Herculean cord be bought?
Our quest’s arrested by suggestiveness of thumb-nails.
“Yes, Watson, these sketches show it was carefully wrought.”

We discover the smith and sample his cat o’ tails,
a test which reminds me of the importance of sleeves!
There’s a sleuth’s cry of triumph, then a murderer’s wails.

“How one’s words, dear Holmes, can prove truer than one believes.”
“I, too, confess surprise at proverb bearing such fruit,
but how real the drama, dear Watson, inspired by leaves.

One sees the tree, the limbs, the shade, supposes the root.
How telling the sleeve, the nail, and, yes, the lace of boot.”

Chapter Text

looking down on Mounts Bay—old death trap

treacherous waters grey

from north to west winds betray

sinister cliffs reefs waylay

 

the land no less grim than sea—lonely moor

morose melancholy

earthen ashen stone mystery

vestiges of lost history

 

meditations. long walks—a rest cure

curated peace. mute talks

of tinned tongues. beyond the gawk

of crowds and their patter-squawk.

 

But oh, the Cornish horror—devil’s foot

the evil that bore her

and kin off. brought explorer

back avenging Death. for her.

 

puzzle once solved, then dismissed—justice ours

outrageous. fortune-kissed.

the strangest of a strange list

time’s mill. chronicler’s grist.

Chapter Text

Black boot

Just bought. Unworn.

Vanished from hotel room.

Nothing to sniff about.

Brown boot.

Snatched after black boot reappears.

Well-worn. Well-loved. Perhaps

better to go

unshod.


Mire

Bitterns retire

Devil-bound hound howls

Man on the Tor

Moor


luminous, red-eyed agent of the Devil howling at the moon

pair of croaking ravens nesting on the craggy cairn

grey curlew soaring aloft in the blue heaven

pouring rain making morass of the firmest

rolling clouds rising now and then

last of the bitterns booming

flock of moor sheep

little curly-haired spaniel

miserable ponies

Cyclopides

fleeing fugitive

dog-less, downhearted doctor

watchful, wondering, waterproofed Watson

mysterious man on the Tor

last of the Baskervilles beckoning fate

all-seeing eye of Mister Frankland’s rooftop telescope

boy bearing tinned peaches, clean collars, local-via-London news

sisters and wives, warning, aiding, heeding conscience, fearing man

butterfly-chasing villain losing his way for the very last time

Chapter Text

dry heat drawn

scorched lungs squeeze

grunt-gasp-groan

wilted flaccidity stirs

draping towel invites

wet lips reply

‘I will attend’

moan-mutter-mewl

so much sweat

beads-rolls-drips

drips in drabbles

on sweet-scented planks

briny bodies burn

burnished blood pools

profound pulse pounds

god-oh-god

salty oath exhaled

eyes shuttered tight

nary a peek

hips beg thrust

devilish infernal cheek

not-now-soldier

savoury suckle savoured

pretty-prick-pet

hissing steam rises

simmer to boil

once-halycon warmth heats

singes-sears-stings

re-forged steel sings

against soft ebb-flow

oh-god-oh

hot-iron mou pressed

in saint-sebastian agony

when sought’s found

grail ground fine

swallowed spittle mine

though unbidden ever-welcome

faceless, nameless pleasure

Turkish

delight

Chapter Text

A case begins like spring, its promise new and green

The plea’s a bud to bloom. The puzzle’s birdsong fair.

The claims and clues are bees. They buzz on summer’s air.

Solutions pollinate. They reign like hive’s own queen.

The zeal then cools to crisp. The autumn’s courtroom scene.

Leaves fall on graves and talk. A blank page’s gummed with care.

The winter sets in swift. The barren boughs despair.

The hibernating hope the spring will intervene.

 

’Both Watson and I had a weakness for the Turkish bath. It was over a smoke in the pleasant lassitude of the drying-room that I have found him less Boswell-esque and more Bard-like than anywhere else.’”

“Holmes! I thought you’d fallen asleep.”

“I did. Then I was watching you write a poem. Really, Watson, I never get your limits. What about a Turkish bath would inspire you to write an Italian sonnet?”

“How do you know it was an Italian sonnet?”

“You were fighting with your alexandrine,” he replied, then extended a long bare arm and put thumb to fingertip in imitation of my struggle to achieve iambic hexameter. “What is it about?”

“You mean you can’t guess?”

“Watson, you wound me. Bricks and clay, my dear man.”

“The seasons, if you must know. A metaphor. I’ve only got the octave.”

“Ah-ha! May I have the volta? I’m awake now. You lie back and smoke and sweat and dream of Xanadu and the lascivious glances that I may or may not be throwing your way.”

I studied him for a long moment, then shrugged and handed over the nub of pencil and scrap of foolscap.

 

What matter thawing ground to trusty boots that tread?

What likeness dog day’s warmth to tracks and scent made fresh?

What harvest glows like justice, truth, and chapter’s end?

What’s winter for, but notes un-played and words unread?

What’s wool for linen cream? What’s sweat to goose-down flesh?

‘Tis naught to him who weathers all with soul’s own friend.

Chapter Text

There's something about a nice woodcock
Which elevates a meal to first-rate
Well roasted, well toasted fine woodcock
I wish I had one on my plate.
There's something about a fine woodcock
To celebrate the end of a case
Of winged fowls, it's the best
And the only plump breast
In which I wish to bury my face.

There's something about a nice pheasant
that strikes me remarkably pleasant
With parsnip, no hardship, a pheasant
I wish that I had one at present
There's something about a fine pheasant
Ere the port and the pipes are at hand
As busty birds go
It's a jolly good show
And the lone one my good cock can stand.

There's something about a pate
Which makes my heart want to boast
A savoury, goose-flavoury pate
In a pie or spread thick on toast
There's something about a pate
Which sets my tastebuds a-quiver
And forgive the faux paux
But I think with foie gras
A great deal depends on the liver!

There's something about an old bottle
With cobwebs and dust on the label.
From an austere, fine-year old bottle,
I'll drink as much as I'm able.
There's something about an old bottle
The sort to be kept under padlock
I've found nothing better
to whistle my wetter.
Nothing less can stand up to my woodcock!

Chapter Text

Port

Port's a nice place to call in
Port's where an anchor can fall in
Port's always left, but all right
Ports can be opened, shut tight
Port when your rifle's a-slant
Port when your girth is gallant
It's catholic and Christian
Best thing out of Lisbon
In a storm when you want to decant


Port’s a fine consort
for cigars and the coarse affairs of men
Brandy comes in handy
when fits and spits and pains and ‘blains set in
Sherry’s awful merry
when ladies want a sip or two of joy
Wine’s always so divine
for it serves every purpose, job, and ploy
Whiskey makes eye misty
for a colonial shore left behind
But the glass
I never pass
is the one that’s held by me and mine.

Chapter Text

I eyed our feast with hungry glee.
The woodcock smelled divine.
The pheasant savory as could be.
And foie gras pie! And wine!

“Oh Holmes, this dinner’s quite a dream,
and you a host so clever
to always sup by candle gleam,
to dine so forever!”

No sooner had these words escaped
my pair of smacking lips
than I began to feel unshaped,
to stir from chest to hips.

My body shrunk, my nose had grown
and I'd premonition
that my soul was not all alone
in this odd condition.

I watched with dread as Holmes transformed
exchanging man’s disguise
for tiny, whiskered, tail-adorned
fur-suit with beady eyes.

“Oh, Holmes!” I squeaked. He twitched his nose.
In polished candlestick,
I spied I, too, in rodent’s clothes,
“Is this a witch’s trick?”

We thrashed upon the table laid
with wine and birds and pie,
but cobwebs spread like ivy weighed
and snared us, by the by.

“Oh, how to break the spell?” I cried.
“To un-enchant the curse?”
“Un-wish the wish,” tittered Holmes.
“It might effect reverse.”

But nothing happened. Nothing helped.
So, Holmes and I remain
a pair of rats, quite trapped, hex-whelped
in feast macabre, profane.

Chapter Text

Mrs. Hudson takes a moment out of her busy day to enjoy a cup of tea and scribble, with whimsical happiness, upon the nearest scrap of wastepaper.

Sympathy and tea are—like a much sought-after, ever-found remedy—compassion-skinned.
A cup, steaming breath, steeping leaf, resembles kindness.
Agony exhaled is sorrow cleaved.
Separateness breeding shame—God, you thank—no more.
Dollop pours out: burden lessened, dregs themselves reveal fortunes told ‘fore ruinous end.
When, suddenly, life leaves one
gasping
for a
cuppa.
Afor’
gasping,
one leaves life,
suddenly,
when end, ruinous-foretold fortunes reveal themselves.
Dregs-lessened burden out-pours.
Dollop more? No, thank you, God.
Shame-breeding separateness cleaved.
Sorrow is exhaled agony.
Kindness resembles leaf-steeping, breath-steaming cup; a skinned compassion-remedy found, ever after sought.
Much alike are tea and sympathy.

Chapter Text

And when the candle’s out, it’s flameless.
And when the fault is none, it’s blameless.
And when there is no clout, it’s fameless.
And when the hybrid’s won, it’s sameless.

And when a man is lost, he’s aimless.
And when he’s bachelor set, he’s dameless.
And when he’s un-embossed, he’s nameless.
And when he’s out of debt, he’s claimless.

And when his heart is wild, it’s tameless.
And when his stride is round, it’s lameless.
And when he speaks truth mild, it’s gameless.
And when his body’s sound, it’s maimless.

And when his love arrives, he declares himself, most shameless.

 

"At the verse again, I see, Watson. More tea?"

"How observant of you, Holmes. No, no thank you."

"I like a bit of wordplay myself, don't you know?"

"No, I did not know. Pass the jam, please."

"Uh, let's see, jam...ham...tam...dram..."

WHAM!

"Oh, Watson."

"Oh, Holmes."

Chapter Text

be-spelted, smelted, melted splooge

befuddled, muddled, puddled pool

be-sweated, unabetted fool

be-baked in cake by no-shade Scrooge

 

oh ugh just ugh and ugh some more

and eek and squeak like burnished teak

like peck of sol-splint beck and beak

like lone groan-moan of swelter lore

 

the drip-drop-plip-plop-drip-drop mess

the daze-y, hazy, mazy thick

the go-slow-no-go-never-quick

which deigns to forward an address

 

the suffer-shudder-shuffle step

the yellow stain that cannot yield

the buzzing, undulating field

the over-easy, yolk-broke pep

 

the sticky wicket, skin-to-seat

which renders moot the suit of cool

reduces faculties to drool

Oh, sod this blazing August heat!

 

"Bessie, my dear, would be so kind as to assist me? yes, Mister Holmes is feeling the effects of this wretched heat wave of ours, yes, his is a constitution that just can't abide the rising mercury, and, yes, he does seem to be a puddle of his former self, that's clever, my dear, I'll hold the bucket and you just tip the armchair, there we go, yes, just like,  pour him in, hair oil and plasters and all, yes, poor thing, he's been reduced to babbling nonsense, but I'll trundle him down to my bath, for you see in the subterranean levels, that the cellar floors below ground, there are pools of nice, refreshing water, that should revive him, get him back to his ol' shape again, and well, if that doesn't work, we could just pickle him and save him for winter, thank you, my dear, I'm awful obliged."

Chapter Text

Brought in the bric-a-brac did we
when commenced domesticity,
but
taught in the tact were we
from first, at mother’s knee
thus,
wrought in the wracked were we
when grew our cordiality,
and
sought in the sacked, did we
for faintest reciprocity,
yet
fraught in the fact were we
of what (we thought) we failed to see
and
distraught in the distract, were we
at rouge improbability
if
caught in the act were we
in polite society
yet
lot in the lacked, for we,
was never meant to be,
so
pot in the packed, did we
and found together happily.

 

"Still playing Bard, I see, Watson."

"A bit of wordplay exercises the brain. I find poetry to be enjoyable as well as useful."

"Useful? Do you lack avenues to express your sentimentality?"

"Hardly. No, I mean, useful as a preemptive strike against the decline of mental faculties often seen with the passage of time."

"Hmm. Yes, quite wise of you, as you'll probably have to deal with that sort of thing."

Silent stare.

"But you won't, Holmes?"

"No, of course, not. 'Age cannot wither me or custom stale my infinite variety.'"

"That's lovely. Your own, Holmes?"

Silent stare.

"Naturally. More toast, Watson?"

Chapter Text

"Will Doctor Watson be joining you for breakfast, Mister Holmes?"

"I fear not, Mrs. Hudson. I believe he has flown the coop. He left this," he passed her a scrap of paper, "on the pin cushion, the proverbial pin cushion, my dear woman, please don't have any anxieties about the sanctity of your sewing basket."

"Hmm." She read. "I agree. Brighton, perhaps?"

"Yes, a briny cure for our dear doctor sounds about right."

"Well, I shan't let any grass grow under my feet. Bessie!"

"Yes, ma'am?"

"Let's air Doctor Watson's room and turn the bed. Have it ready for him when the mercury falls, and he, and his pawky humour, return to brood."

 

The bide of summer leaves me jestless,

humour brief.

The ache for autumn leaves me restless.

 

The lingering heat, trough and crestless,

begs belief.

The bide of summer leaves me jestless.

 

The yearn for arbours, cone and nestless,

nut-cheeked thief.

The ache for autumn leaves me restless.

 

The baking sun bores east and westless,

sans relief.

The bide of summer leaves me jestless.

 

Parade calabash, cored and guestless,

smoky sheaf!

The ache for autumn leaves me restless.

 

Spring and winter pass smooth and testless,

without grief,

But bide of summer leaves me jestless,

and ache for autumn leaves me restless.

 

Chapter Text

Into the artery, in vain
misguided leap, the cab mares strain.
The hansom stalls, not so the rain.
And far-off bells ring, loud and plain.

Unseen in church wing, I remain.
Into the artery, in vain
attempt to obstruct, obtain
a dream, I shall not ever deign.
Your vows to love, my vow to feign.

A tiny flagon of disdain
awaits to ease unbottled pain.
Into the artery, in vain,
will march forget-me-quick campaign.

‘Round Empire’s cesspool dark, I drain.
I float upon a tide of bane.
In search of peace, I wax, I wane
into the artery, in vain.

Chapter Text

Knit two
Purl one
Uh-oh
BOOM!

Chapter Text

A week of contemplation passed
before choice made, resolve amassed.
Cold comfort mine, most befitting;
decision his, take up knitting.
Excursions ‘cross metropolis
for yarns exact to standard his.
God knows how many trips downstairs,
he took, upsetting Hudson’s cares,
in search of aid and sage advice,
just purling once, then knitting twice.
Know-it-all reduced to tatters;
long nights spent on loom-spun matters.
My fellow lodger’s furious
needling was quite curious.
Out-thrown from home by grave ennui,
pursuing woolen-free buoy
quayside, without mizzen-mast-toff
rum-purls eluding this cast-off
swine, I drowned my sorrow, turned cheek
towards Baker Street, met vision meek
unexpected on my return.
‘Very new tricks old hounds can learn,
Watson, for you, with high regards!’
X marked the trove: a scarf in yards.
‘You did it for me?!” I cried;
zealously, I donned it with pride.

Chapter Text

Knowing is rather a solitary pursuit,

naught-knotting, false-fraughting the fray-ed, staid path;

in so much as one can ever know the other,

theosophic questions notwithstanding, astute

twists, arabesques, swan’s neck dives down the primrose bath,

evince truth, revealing one after another,

damned faint praise, the plodding craftsman’s satisfaction.

Be still and know. That I am verity’s godmother

rests with the fable-teller, not the after-wrath;

oafish world mistaking stillness for inaction,

watch I flames, leap, smother.

Chapter Text


Hallow (The Hound of the Baskervilles)

Oh, hear the phantom hound at howl
across the moor most unhallowed.
Comes swift reply most uncallowed
the boom of bittern, screech of owl.

A monstrous cur is on the prowl
to sow fear in fields unfallowed,
to trim wickedness untallowed,
to chill the night by tooth and jowl.

A stubborn heir refuses care.
A chaperone is distracted.
Butterfly-catcher’s net sails past
as fugitive exchanges wear
and dire warning is redacted.
Forget the stage, beware the cast!


Unquiet ("The Sussex Vampire")

No ghosts need apply, there’s evil aplenty
of bone and flesh in devil’s agent spawn.
Dead wives’ tales come cheap, farthings a penny,
once all breath’s expired, once all blood’s been drawn.

Ghostly antics shall never disturb us,
‘tis thwarted boys who blow poison-tipped hate.
No vampire shall vex, hex, or perturb us.
And as for the dead, well, they’re always late!

No ghosts need knock while memory haunts us
while resentments fester like cauldron boil
while the world that never was laughs, taunts us.
Send the wicked to sea in vats of oil

Fear not spectres in the run-riot hour
Fear the undone weak, the unquiet dour


Lantern ("The Engineer's Thumb")

A tenfold fee glitters,
lures hungry engineer
into cold, embitters
the safe, makes cheap the dear.

A blindfold doesn’t warn
of danger yet to come.
Gilt rose belies cruel thorn,
robs sight, makes right, leaves dumb.

Explanations fall short;
the ride is much too long.
Considerations thwart
abandoning the wrong.

For those who close their eyes yet curse the blessed night,
who follow lantern’s flame yet never see the light.

Chapter Text

The scent of Watson is a curious blend

of piquancy, of quotidian note.

A potpourri replenished without end,

each day rent new bouquet from fragrance rote.

 

Of piquancy, of quotidian note,

tobacco clings. With pawky jest resumes

each day. Rent new bouquet from fragrance rote

by sweat and blood, adventure’s sweet perfumes.

 

Tobacco clings, with pawky jest resumes

its tango, cheek-to-cheek with whiskey-rye.

By sweat and blood, adventure’s sweet perfumes,

creative faculties are made to cry.

 

Its tango, cheek-to-cheek with whiskey-rye,

a potpourri replenished without end,

creative faculties are made to cry.

‘the scent of Watson is a curious blend.’


The scent of Holmes is like an oft-used drawer

replete with jumble most incongruous

of skeleton keys which never bore

the mark of common, mundane, tedious.

 

Replete with jumble most incongruous

of woolen rosin, smoky clouds declaim

the mark of common, mundane, tedious,

bare toothy bite of chemicals aflame.

 

Of woolen rosin, smoky clouds declaim

until a whiff of game afoot. Smells he,

bare toothy bite of chemicals aflame,

the epitaph of domesticity.

 

Until a whiff of game afoot, smells he,

of skeletons keys which never bore

the epitaph of domesticity,

‘the scent of Holmes is like an oft-used drawer.’

 

Chapter Text

Sweet heat of oranges studded with cloves.
Dark wine as it mulls and simmers on stoves;
cinnamon, cardamom, spices of old,
nutmeg mild, ginger warm, peppermint bold.

Savory roasts turning brown on the spit,
drip drops in the fire that hiss when they hit.
Potatoes and parsnips shining with butter
baked aside drakes that crackle and sputter.

Faint hint of smoke that unfurls through the trees.
Fir fragrance aloft on wintery breeze.
Smell on the air just before the snows fall,
well beyond words yet known to one, to all.

Callers aplenty, all with one reason:
wish and be wished the joy of the season;
Perfumes, pomades and finery mixing,
to the sitting room bouquet affixing.

Such is the breath of Yuletide revelry,
So the Christmas scents of 221B.

Chapter Text

Some say a trip by rail
at Christmas cannot fail.
To me, it brings naught but strain.
When I think of an event
which happen’d when I went
a-riding in a Christmas train.

Was headed out to sea,
a briny mystery
awaited me—in vain.
For I met a fine gent,
a-going where I went,
a-riding in that Christmas train.

His natural panache
from laces to moustache
gave my ‘chilles heel a sprain,
and when our eyes did meet
he offered me a seat
a-riding in that Christmas train.

What he whisper’d in my ear
made me pink from front to rear
and rear to front again.
And then he bid me sit,
said how snugly we would fit
a-riding in that Christmas train.

And when the tunnel neared,
my heart was quite afeared
it wouldn’t bear the strain,
but scarcely we were in
I felt around my bend
a-tickling in that Christmas train.

The darkness was complete,
but we rode nice and neat.
I’d nothing to complain.
With each bump and pitch,
he scratched plum ev’ry itch
that plagued me in that Christmas train.

And when the darkness cleared,
how handsome he appeared.
His moustache waxed not waned.
O goodness, what a fix!
To have it on my lips
while riding in that Christmas train!

The gent just beamed and smiled;
‘There’s more to drive you wild’
‘twas his whispered refrain.
‘Next time the train sharp stops,
I’ll give you all I gots
right here in this Christmas train.’

It wasn’t meant to be
for very hastily
a guard approached, constrained.
‘A message I have got
by telegraph to stop
and plead for you to save the train.’

‘Dear sir, there’s been a crime,
just a little of your time,
will spare us shame profane.’
The gent was undaunted;
‘twas then I knew I wanted
him with me on that Christmas train.

‘Shall we investigate?’
I asked. At his ‘Can’t wait!'
my heart leapt quite insane.
Together, doc and sleuth,
we got right to the truth
of The Case of the Christmas Train.

The gent was so amazed.
My ev'rything he praised.
Skirt to star, suit to brain.
I begged him come with me
on holiday by sea.
And so, we left the Christmas train.

Some say a trip by rail
at Christmas cannot fail.
To me, it brings a grin inane.
Quite a lot can transpire,
a very Wildest desire,
a-riding in a Christmas train.

Chapter Text

A wearisome and well-worn rhythm beats

at nape as crawling skin and heavy gut

afflict the winged creature caught in rut

of modern comfort. Logic sharp competes

and is defeated by elemental bleats.

‘Tis the pick-pick-picking of chair’s arm what

betrays the suffering of being shut

in nature’s cage. Dawn’s desires, like bars, cut

until a long-forgotten answer greets.

O take to the roof! O take to the sky!

O take the southern star and golden eye!

O ancient blood that soars! O wings that fly!

O sing the good song! O herald the cry!

The lost is found. The low has been made high.

O air that stings! O joy that cometh nigh!

Chapter Text

A black silk mask to hide one’s features in plain sight,
A face, a name, a name, a face is known.
A lantern dark to bend to will double-edged light.
Be seen and have one’s candle blown.
A jemmy crude to pry away what’s wedged in tight.
a violent wrench, a truth exposed:
no door is ever really closed.
A heavy drill comes next, precision over might.
Threat of force forbids refutal.
Consequence is sharp and brutal.
A skeleton key to turn the most common site.
But ‘neath the sun there’s nothing new.
A pick from stash of nicks that tricks tough clicks just right.
And then, the last appeal is through.
And postcard taunt is left to gild the bastard’s plight.

Chapter Text

Don’t most agree that hearth is home and home is family?

The walls and stairs, the company with whom one sups and shares

a roof, perhaps, a chin. My view, of slim minority,

is much depends upon, not name nor blood nor stove, but chairs.

 

Chairs to take morn tea. Chairs to read a book, to smoke a pipe.

Chairs to rock. Chairs to bide and talk. Chairs, of all household wares,

reveal inheritance, economy of every stripe.

Chairs offer rest. At each moment, worst and best, there are chairs.

 

Take my landlady. She prefers a certain stool from which

she exercises domestic sovereignty. No one dares

usurp her perch. And when her work is through, she sews a stitch

(and has a nip) in a rocker carved to fit. Queen of chairs.

 

Take this armchair of mine, in which I sit; in which I muse;

in which I greet, resolve mixed sundry problems, puzzles, cares.

It suits my length of stature, depth of thought, though I abuse

it with pipe spills, hazards graver still. Most stalwart of chairs.

 

This household, this, if you’ll allow, assembled family,

is three: by our lady, myself and a lodger, who fares

the city since dawn’s hour tending the ill. Our trinity

is well supported by each other and well-crafted chairs.

 

Outsiders cannot comprehend just how we keep the peace

when all safeguard so fiercely custom, habit, purview theirs;

but when tempers (and flames) spark, when tensions (and rents) increase

it’s geometry: we have our corners and we have our chairs.

 

A wide variety of guests pass through our humble doors:

police and clients, people, like yourself, caught unawares

by life’s unsavoriness. Such cases are very much like yours,

and such callers sit in one of those most excellent chairs.

 

This handsome throne in which you have ensconced yourself, good sir,

that which has its place across from mine and by the fire, bears

the imprint of long use by he who’s held most dear and were

he to return soon, which he will, he’d stand, forgoing chairs.

 

And that won’t do. And as you’re a gent who won’t take a hint,

I say, “Your wife. And plumber. One of many trade affairs.

That’s why strange drips, odd trips, and—hark! I hear him—lip print.

Good day, sir! We must preserve the sanctity of chairs!”

Chapter Text

Holmes held aloft the helmet-shaped flower.

“A fair and goodly bloom, doesn’t it seem?

But tender blue belies a grave power.

This friar’s cowl drips most impious stream.

 

When mixed with oil, the well-ground roots may serve

to free the aching joints from suffering.

But even Pliny wrote of its quick verve.

Death-tipped arrows permit no buffering.

 

It sprang, they say, from Cerberus’ drool

when Hercules dragged him from Hades’ realm.

Here, it was found a most effective tool

to swiftly, permanently overwhelm.”

 

“That’s it! Oh, Holmes, you solved it in the end!”

“And learned much of wolfsbane from a good friend.”

Chapter Text

This is a boy.

This is a boy on the last night of October.
This is a boy in a costume grim and sober.

This is a boy who has been asked to go guising.
This is a boy who finds it wildly surprising.
This is a boy who is shy but enterprising.

This is a boy whose verse is a pitiful thing.
This is a boy who is far too bashful to sing.
This is a boy whose jokes either fall flat or sting.
This is a boy whose steps lack poise and graceful spring.

This is a boy who looks on as boys and girls dance
This is a boy who watches them juggle and prance
This is a boy who sees them recite in bold stance.
This is a boy who gives them all a careful glance.
This is a boy who observes and waits for his chance.

This is a boy who steps up with trepidation.
This is a boy who makes a keen observation.
This is a boy who speaks of maids and libation.
This is a boy whose words provoke consternation.
This is a boy blind to unease and vexation.
This is a boy who greets his treat with elation.

This is a boy who tells the present, infers the past.
This is a boy whose apt deductions flabbergast.
This is a boy who renders every face aghast.
This is a boy who answers questions that are asked.
This a boy whose young peers see that he goes last.

This is a boy who, by the last house, is replete.
This is a boy who is ‘bout to burst with sweet-meat.
This is a boy who looks sick-green and starts to bleat.
This is a boy decorating the lane with treat.

This is a boy put to bed without a quibble.
This is a boy who for days can’t bear a nibble.
This is a boy who gains reputation as sibyl.

This is a boy who stays at home next Hallow’s Eve
This is a boy who doesn’t mourn, who doesn’t grieve.

This is a boy.

This is a boy on the last day of October.
This is a boy not in costume grim or sober.

This is a boy who shares fright tales with his brother.
This is a boy enjoying treats from his mother
This is a boy who wants this fun and no other.

This is a boy not invited to go guising.
This is a boy who finds it most unsurprising.

This is a boy.

Chapter Text

Old wells and waters still, in almost known

vernacular address me ere I drown

their voices familiar in market town

hubbub. Memory crushed ‘neath cobblestone

clacks. Distance must be hastily thrown

behind me; comfort, swiftly, like sweet sound,

cast off or laid to rest in sacred ground.

Arisen from the grave, I am alone.

But when the work is done, I seek them out,

those old wellsprings, those waters still and soft

in their murmurings. They speak of hope new.

With urgent undertones, they vanquish doubt

and raise what was once din-trampled aloft,

at last, guiding me back to home and you.

Chapter Text

Just hear the bells, they’re ringing loud,
those Bow church bells, they’re singing proud,
grey skies, but here there’s not a cloud.
This baby’s mine.
My baby’s born today, uncowed
by Bow bells fine.

Just hear the bell, it’s ringing loud.
Look! Hands are wringing, head is bowed,
and hope’s as thin as clinging shroud.
A client calls.
Distress, hard-pressing, unavowed,
it peals and palls.

Oh, damn that bell! It’s ringing loud.
The doctor’s up ‘fore noon-day crowd.
He’ll want his kippers, sowed and ploughed,
twixt eggs and toast,
and rashers crisp as saints allowed—
if I may boast.

Right here the bed is fixed to ground,
but pull the rope. Hear? There’s no sound.
Like dogs that do not bark or bound
no matter what,
it is a silence most profound:
bell with tongue cut.

Just hear the bells, they’re ringing loud,
My baby’s born, they’re singing proud.
Drive out the rain, dispel the cloud.
Ring, Bow church bells!
Not like the door, the caller’s squeal,
not like the chime, the maid’s appeal,
not silent when there’s joy to feel.
Sing, Bow church bells!

Chapter Text

“Permit me to be just a bit rude, Holmes.
But your ideas on art are crude, Holmes.”

Upon quitting the picture gallery,
I sighed. “Yours is a crass attitude, Holmes.”

“The works of modern Belgian masters seem
to rid you of moral rectitude, Holmes.”

In sing-song mockery my friend replied,
“’But, of course, you know that I’m no prude, Holmes.’”

“I’m not!” protested I. “How could I know
such strokes and tints put you in the mood, Holmes?”

I mopped my brow. “And wasn’t I partner
 to the furtive wooing, being wooed, Holmes?”

Grey eyes lit. “Watson, Bond Street is full of…”
“…avenues,” I breathed, “to be pursued, Holmes.”

Chapter Text

So many mysteries to be found in the Gardens in Kew.
The Palm House, its long, inverted ship’s hull commanding eye.
The Temperate House, guarding delicate fronds behind glass.
The Great Pagoda, hatted, stacked, and towering above.
The Tea House, offering respite from Nature’s abundance
So much to see, explore, investigate at Paschaltide.

‘Come, Watson, there are blessings aplenty this Paschaltide
and murder in bountiful bloom at the Gardens in Kew
Ah, here we are! But where to begin with such abundance?’
‘I’m no detective, Holmes, but doesn’t that arrest the eye?
I mean, that figure hanging by the neck from high above.’
‘Death by Madagascan suicide palm! Head for the glass!’

‘It was the aunt, dear Watson, taken quite mad by a glass
of fresh papaya juice bestowed to her at Paschaltide
by a dear nephew. He said, ‘No more.’ She strung him above.
As gardener, he’d leave to partake of the sweetest of Kew,
you see.’ ‘By Jove, Holmes, it’s all rather fruity to my eye!’
‘Yes,’ groaned Holmes, ‘But some things are still ripe and in abundance!

Look, Watson! To the Temperate House! An abundance
of police can be observed beyond and about the glass.’
‘A youth and his mother’s sister could not see eye-to-eye.
From words to blows to boulders. Shard-split at Paschaltide!
There are too many glasshouses to throw large stones in Kew!’
Then ‘twas heard a scream, seen a figure falling from above.

Off to the Great Pagoda, one looking down, one, up above.
‘Go, Watson!’ ‘Where?’ ‘Up!’ ‘Oh, Holmes, that’s an awful abundance
of steps!’ ‘A hero of Maiwand can brave the stairs of Kew!’
Later, while mopping his brow, Watson groaned, ‘I need a glass.’
‘Indeed, a most unchristian occurrence at Paschaltide.
A niece’s hat finding grave disfavor in an aunt’s eye.’

Glass before him, Watson sighed, ‘More to Kew than meets the eye!
For this Tea House and its libations, thank the Lord above!’
‘And to your rugby-tackle, Watson, a boon this Paschaltide!
Then Holmes’s expression changed. ‘Stop, Watson! There’s abundance
of poison!’ ‘Where?’ ‘There, my dear man. In yours and every glass!
Oh, I see, the Agony Aunts have brought their dark trade to Kew!’

The beauty of Paschaltide is in the beholder’s eye:
for Holmes, the Gardens in Kew were a gift from above,
a murderous abundance of aunts ‘midst flora and glass

Chapter Text

Here’s a man

war-battered
nerves shattered

jettisoned on Portsmouth jetty
eleven and sixpence in his pocket lest he

think that
Queen and country
don’t care

so he drains with the idlers and loungers
with the hustlers and bustlers and scroungers


misfortune-branded,
and, in a room on the Strand,
quite stranded.


Here’s a man

rediscovered
and recovered

once more a doctor, once more a solider,
though the battle’s for justice, a purpose much older

than Queen and country

his place as Boswell
lauds well

With his ink much demanded
and his name in the <I>Strand</I>
he’s
never
strapped,
trapped,
or
stranded.

Chapter Text

In the cesspool with idlers and loungers he drains.
An eleven and sixpence in hand for his pains.
And there’s no one to hear if he cries or complains
in a room on the Strand.
In the night, to escape all his burdens and banes,
he sets forth on the land.

Through the city he wanders without purpose or aim,
by the shops, ‘cross the parks, along streets he can’t name.
Every night is a novel, each day much the same,
And he watches them all.
There, the reveler, the deviler, and crown prince of shame
amidst peddler and stall.

As he surveys the river, he grieves he can’t paint.
Then he’s lost ‘round the docks with its brine and its taint.
There he spies a young sailor, feels something quite faint
in his moribund frame.
But the seaman’s a ghost: there he is, there he ain’t.
as the fog lays its claim.

The next night it is Limehouse. He breathes its perfumes
of the spices in rices and vices in tombs,
navigating by lanterns which hang like the plumes
in an opium den.
There’s a lad, he’s quite something, the pose he assumes
makes a corpse think of sin.

He returns to his rooms more alive than fatigued
and throws off the mantle of dreamer bereaved.
No mistake, there’s an ache, an old friend, he’s intrigued,
so he spits on his palm.
And he thinks of the lad and the sailor un-leagued
and applies the wet balm.

As he strokes, he remembers what once made him tick,
resurrected by lust, a young dog, an old trick.
He imagines it all, from the tight to the slick,
free from blot, free from strife.
And he thinks as he watches the lurch of his prick,
‘Not a bad sign of life.’

Chapter Text

I find a concentrated atmosphere

begets a concentrated state of mind

and concentrated thought. Such thoughts adhere

to walls, un-cling, re-shape, and breed confined.

The logical conclusion of such thought,

of such a singular conviction is

to get into a box to think, I think.

Is such a length too far to seek what may be sought?

Too deep to plumb for man and powers his?

Once body’s bound, won’t mind push past the brink?

 

But man’s a boy for all that, and a box

is just a cave. Explore, escape, cocoon,

exchange this world for one less orthodox

if only for a Sunday afternoon.

Be still and I’ll be peacefully ignored,

forgotten by the world beyond thin walls.

Be quiet. No one’s looking for me—yet.

The boring, having quite mislaid the bored,

are slow to drive away abandon’s palls,

the clouds of benevolent neglect.

 

But boy-years pass. The man can now discern

between restraints which succor thought and bars

which cage the soul. Not so simple to learn

but worth averted madness, worth the scars.

The difference lies in whom is architect

and mason-carpenter and engineer:

puritanical them or noisome us.

The walls they impose, the walls we erect

are not the same. It’s mine, this atmosphere.

Clear the air but don’t call it poisonous.