In which Squire Mytton vaults a dining
table on Baronet, his one-eyed horse …
Mytton spans history’s dining table, cartoon-
mount all spindled legs, matched only
by cock-eyed surprise.
Tinkling barley-twist stemmed glasses,
etched decanters reflect hooves, silver puddled,
trays joggled to lunacy’s straining beat.
Beloved in pub prints, feat
to draw punters, wooden
Squire bests dining-table’s length
on rocking-mare made flesh.
Some penny-plains half-capturing
his lips’ curve, rapturous,
eyes distended with wild joy.
Deep lines etch peg-doll face, betraying
how he’d live, re-live that jump again,
Bedlam’s Tam O’Shanter, no hag
pursuing, through heart’s fast-buckling terrain.
Squire John ‘Mango’ (‘Mad Jack’) Mytton
was one of the most popular Regency figures to be depicted in sporting prints,
books, and paintings.
There’s a dance going on in the dark above our heads,
men pressing women against laundered suits,
a girl’s surprised to find her older partner
dances better than boys, a woman leaves imprinted lips
staining the bar-tender’s milky cheek.
Above us, the burned-out pier against evening’s
Guinness-black curtain, where feet shuffle in rhythm
(a few toes getting stepped on), and maybe this
close stepping’s what we’re made for,
hands tight against gabardine or georgette clad backs.
It may be the sea, or the dancers’ suggestive whispering:
At last, at last, at last …
Above our heads, pier-bones lost to night,
where phantoms clutch each other.
Only the sea? Or a woman breathing to her partner,
before kissing him: I wish tonight would last,
would last … would last …
Of the Thames’ course, hairy log shifts faster than walking,
impersonates tide-fretted girl …
Locale legends – Rushing woman shouts: ‘Someone’s drowning’,
then’s wall swallowed … Barge steered under arches
not re-emergent … Witnesses mention occupants’ sparking eyes.
Londoners, used to going … reappearing …
Old man sluthering Starbuck’s – Reality, or last year’s shadow?
sores on hands and naked feet
eluding vision like a phantom barge.
His playboy presence was a flickering flame,
dazzling with diamond-bracelet smiles.
GABLE MOBBED BY FANS WHO TRAVELLED MILES
the papers said we put New York to shame,
but Mansfield fans set up a waiting game
and got him signing photographs in piles.
Fire-lipped typists, abandoning their files
mobbed him for copies of his well-heeled name.
‘Clark, over here, Clark’ – Still that refrain clings,
‘mi Mam thinks you’re the dishiest man alive!’
Still I see him, standing hand in pocket,
as if Mansfield was glamorous Palm Springs
and not a place to make his spirits dive.
I keep him like a picture in a locket.