Nothing could prepare the Baroness
for the deadly smog
of sulphuric gas,
manure, cesspools, hand shakes.
No rain like the black
on Leicester Square
as she waits for her husband
with her ideas of love,
violence and the open society.
Now dressed for dinner, she smooths
her silk and silver bodice.
Tugs at her German day dress
as if Prussian propriety might hold sway
against potato blight
and back-street vendors, flogging
rancid mutton to passing tenement trade.
Where the loan shark write off
and pawnshop philanthropy, cash in
as if to dodge tax, death
and bureaucratic merry-go-round.
Where child traffickers
and Drury Lane pimps, trade family
and silver spoons,
in the consumptive gin palaces
of Covent Garden.
How can she know how close
she will come to losing her mind,
and exile in Victoria’s London.
Only twelve hours off the night-boat.
Already pitted against
organ grinder, punisher, broom girl.
Thousands of hungry mouths. Mumping. Mutching.
Orphans, tails, and toffers
by hunger and cholera.
SO CAPITAL SINKS
sentient beings up to their necks
in the private cellars of human excrement.
Washes dirty money in the slops and spoils
of industrial civilisation.
A Line of Her Own
Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.
The artistic life is never free
from morbidity, or its stellar marriage
with melancholy and frustration
But no amount of talent can account
for misfortune, or the weight
of filial obligation
And even kindness and devotion
that baffle description
must have their upper limit
Hamlet fever aside – no budding actor
could turn a blind eye
to the excess
of Shakespearean hard luck
and human loss
that plague the extended family
Torn between her dying father and life
in the London theatre –
the pale and emaciated Thespian
would never make the big time in an age
before film acting
as the art of experiencing reality
Needless to say
as the art of representation
was never enough
for an actress
who neither forced, or faked it
January Glad Song
Just when you thought
things couldn’t get any worse,
in the living room goes on the blink.
Not so easy writing a book
in the winter freeze;
especially when your breath slows
to a frozen whisper.
Now, fingers numb as you type,
of Eleanor Marx, born
into the slums of Victorian Soho
under the mocking eaves
of Dean Street, one unforgiving
Here, our story begins…
Dreams of My Father
Thrice he broke the staff of the Versailles flag
hoisted on the barricade of the Rue de Paris.
–Prosper Olivier Lissagaray
Where some men are weasels,
other men are bears
like the fire breathing Lissagaray –
Soldier of the Commune
Last man standing on the last barricade
in the Rue Ramponeau.
Little wonder, Eleanor Marx
courageously gave up
on her hymen, for the monumentally tortured,
weather-beaten French Adonis.
Alas, her heart
(being only her heart) no longer belonged
to daddy, which left the old sourpuss
Bereft at the loss of his alter-ego.
Certainly, ‘Lissa’ was the man
who most reminded Tussy of her father,
but the wild eyed,
moody exile, was still a man.
A world-weary man
who would throw down the gauntlet
at her feminist resolve.
To stick it out
and not become just another mom-to-be,
at home on the range.
Mark A. Murphy is an Ace poet, living with GAD, and OCD. He has poems forthcoming in Cultural Weekly and Acumen. He has had work published in 18 countries. He is a 3 time Pushcart Nominee, and has published seven books of poetry to date, including, 'Tin Cat Alley & Other Poems: Not to be Reproduced' by Venetian Spider Press, 2021. German publisher ‘Moloko Print’ are to publish his latest collection, ‘The Ruin of Eleanor Marx’ in the spring of 2022.