Thursday, June 18, 2009

Burning Yesterday

Where have all the shoetrees gone,
buried in old leather one by one?
Hiding in wardrobes with trouser presses,
patent leather pumps and short-fringed dresses;
with Oxford Bags and elastic braces,
stained with summer joy and camphor traces.

Where are the tiepin and the collar stud,
to adorn the double breasted worsted?
In our fathers’ world of yesteryear
with brilliantine and centre parted hair,
standing by ladies with permanent waves,
tending lilacs draped round architraves.

Where the cigarette cards and bagatelle,
and gold trimmed telegrams that wished them well?
With pink teapots shaped like crinolines,
pregnant with buttons, string and safety pins,
and insipid prints hanging on the wall
over the Singer parked lonely in the hall.

Where the summers and un-seasonal heat,
the ration books and not enough to eat?
With the pinks and lupines round the lawn,
and smoking Spitfires limping home at dawn;
with stuttering Sten conversing in French woods
or behind counters with black-market goods.

Where the dartboard behind the door,
and well worn Axminster on the floor?
With the Chinese vase and pampas grass,
and oriental tables made of brass,
brought home from Empire’s far flung parts,
a sop to soldier’s wives with broken hearts.

Where the nightingale chanting jug-a-jug
and the air raid shelters still not dug?
With Vera singing on the radio,
the Man-in-Black reading Edgar Allan Poe,
and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca,
telling Bergman how he’d like to thank her.

Where the red-carpeted cinema,
with lowly usherettes and Wurlitzer?
Gone already with the cruel winds
of cities burning with war leader’s sins.
So with Coward’s spirit be blithe too
when your charred Atlantas fade from view.

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