November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Robert Mustard/Poetry

After Messalina

Death, that old whore
who gladly takes on all comers
will happily accommodate you
for the small price of your soul.
She will do you up good,
make sure you have no complaints,
and send you off into the night
completely satisfied.

Though you may be relieved
to be done when finished,
and you may not have wanted to come
in the first place,
since you have no choice
it’s best you take her hand
and follow her up those wornout stairs,
under the pulsing neon sign,
just as a thousand others
have done so tonight.

For she is used to reluctance
in all its forms. You
have nothing she hasn’t seen before
and will not see again.

When you’re spent
and have pulled those soiled bills
from your pocket,
just be sure you’ve paid in full.
To ensure your proper passage
leave every last sou on her bed.
She will appreciate the payment
for a job well done
and will send you
to the place prepared,
as advertised.   


Mrs. Mathers

Mrs. Mathers died last night,
her fragile hold gave way.
I had seen her just last week.
She seemed to be okay,
but who knows at eighty-three?

She was sharp until the end,
her mind steeped in the mysteries she had read.
I saw these books arrive by mail,
they piled up in the lobby.
Some wait for her now.
They will not get her perusal.

Her penetrating eye could see through me,
she was nobody’s fool.
Once in the elevator I asked
what she was reading.
“Chandler,” she replied.
Her answer left no room
for further inquiry,
though the way she looked
at the elevator door told me
she was not intimidated by The Big Sleep,
nor anything else likely to come her way.

I will miss her cold, clear gaze
and the slight tell
that lingered on her face.
She took us all in
as something she’d seen before.
Still, I counted her as a friend.
Her daughters will now likely sell,
and a young couple with a baby
or maybe a corgi
will take her place.
This seems to be the trend.  


Rob Mustard is a former English teacher, and retired professional photographer. His photographs appear in the May-June 2010 issue of (See Archives). He and his wife Deborah live in El Segundo, California.