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first published in Acumen, 2006;

 in collection, Gallery, Poetry Monthly Press




The portrait lied a ruddy, handsome lord.

The match was made by proxy.  When at last

I saw him in the flesh I was aghast.

Nothing I'd heard about him had prepared


me for a cushion stuffed with gorgeous cloth,

a broad, fat face, two little greedy eyes.

He'd killed one wife, divorced the first.  Now wise

to what I'd taken on, I smelt his breath,


saw his huge bulk undressed.  He sickened me.

In any case, the wretch was impotent.

Reasons of state required a settlement.

When he divorced me, I was glad to agree.


I live in comfort.  Who's the Flemish Mare?

At least I kept my head.  Why should I care?



Joan Sheridan Smith


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