Poem: In Defence of Poor Reuben Falstaff


That face,

That face that sets light on my wildest yearnings,

And turns my palest heavens

Into raging inferno’s of confusion

Will I ever be able to drown that face

With unnumbered kisses?

And weep out the truth

Into your dresses

That only poetry can surmise?

I am your thin Falstaff –

And you, my Prince Hal;

I will engross and entertain you for a time –

But eventually, womanhood will call;

You will be thronged in suitors

Rising on every side like weeds

Whilst I meekly cry:

“Abandon not poor Reuben!

Maniacal Reuben! Dangerous Reuben!

Changeable Reuben – Unexplainable Reuben!

Reuben of infinite goodwill!

Abandon truth – abandon folly

Abandon everything in the raging dominion

Of reality’s taintless estate –

But abandon not poor, Reuben Falstaff!”

But it will just be a painful soliloquy.

I think of watching your grow up,

And I feel a father’s pain

At watching a perfect flower

Bloom so far away from myself

I know I seem like

A fabulist clown

But do you not know

That those that laugh the most

Are those that suffer the most?

For every jape and joke

I am taxed in a tithe of tears

And after the farting of a whoopee cushion

A tragedy must unfold

So think not unkindly on poor Reuben Falstaff –

But ask:

What drove Jack to drink?

Was it foreknowledge of that unfriendly divorce

That was certain to undo him?

What drove Coleridge to opium?

Syd Barrett to LSD?

A thousand monks to self-flagellation?

And the serried dead

To rise from their graves

In search of greyer mausoleums?

I do not give answers anymore –

Only kisses and questions

But if you will tolerate

This emaciated madcap beside you

Perhaps your encroaching Queendom

Will not have to see me die

Oh, say not goodbye!

Every goodbye that falls from your lips

Is like a dagger to my senses

Creating scars that can only be soothed

By your belated return

So think not unkindly

On poor Reuben Falstaff

For whilst he might love

In the most deranged of ways

Still – he loves,

And in that mighty chest of pain

You can still find the daggers

Of your every,





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