My Last Premier (aka If Looks Could Kill)


That’s my last Premier painted in the Leg
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece of work a blunder now: Her painter’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she sits.
Will’t please you stand and look at her? I said
“Her painter” by design, for never read
Yobs like you that sour countenance.
The depth and dudgeon of being queried,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such an angry eye came there; so not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir ’twas not
Her daughter’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Premier’s cheek: perhaps
An executive assistant chanced to say “Her solo flight’s
Confirmed” or “Public toilets–a hole in the ground”:
Such stuff was entitlement, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
No perspective–how shall I say?–no feeling for others,
Too easily arrogant; she liked where’er
She travelled, and her planes went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! The pearls on her breast,
The revolts in caucus, the penthouse plan and butler pantry,
The deputy-premier she rode with round the terrace.
She thanked Thomas (and Dave)–good! but thanked
Somehow–I know not how–as if she ranked her office
As a suitable gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt
Using public resources as her own, and exceeded the mark.
This grew, she gave commands. Then all trips
Stopped together. There she stands regally
Packed to go–renouncing her crown for a bike in Palm Springs.
Notice her mouth, though, still pursed as if to say,
How dare you question your consummate queen?


Another day, another premier’s portrait in AB–with apologies to Robert Browning.

In the interests of equal time, I tried to write a poem about Dave, but there was nothing to say. And, of course, Thomas is writing his own version of “My Last Duchess”. To be continued…

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