for M.T.

It is January in London, where this metoikos has flown
for three weeks of study. I slip through twilight streets
to Soho, with a professor-turned-friend, into a world

of feathers and glitter on Berwick. Light scorches our eyes
as we grope to find the basement, narrow stairs a cocoon
of singing Buddhas, gigantic pearls, lipstick, moustache.

He is just past forty, gliding down, jeans low on sharp hips,
his wisp-voice almost matching mine. I wear work boots,
loose trousers and purple silk, hair shaved to fuzz.

Below, stardust and champagne! I dive into crystals,
singing prisms through my fingertips as he dresses me
in frock coat, top hat, cravat. He tangos in floor-length lamé.

The clerk slides over, fingers fluttering graceful acceptance,
as he holds a giant marble to the light, refracting rainbows
on the wooden walls of our spontaneous play-theater.

For a moment, we believe he too knows the cloister
of a larger world, the need for beauty when blue hearts
bleed lavender on parents' bone-white tablecloth.

I raise my arms to fly into iridescence swirling around us—
and he sees the curve of chest. He becomes formal,
addressing my friend with "Sir" and me with "Ma'am,"

speaking about deep blue things, not lavender anymore,
football at Wembley and ladies on Mayfair, asking my friend
if he would like to buy anything for "his little lady here,"

as I fall into shadow. My friend buys a single white carnation,
pins it to my lapel, and we leave together, silent, drifting
back to Oxford, back to pink or blue, back to the rest.

Yet as we pass an alleyway, littered with shadows and glass,
I hear, "Sir? Take pity, sir." I see an ageless soul shrouded in tartan,
and I surrender a small gold coin for the chance to believe again.

Lucien Darjeun Meadows began writing as a child among the mountains of Monongalia County, West Virginia. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Appalachian Heritage, Battered Suitcase, Quarterly West, and Toad, among other excellent journals. Lucien is an MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where he teaches English Composition and lives with his cosmic cohort. Learn more about him at (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761