Wednesday, June 12, 2013

dead beauty

Professor Christophe Keskesay adored beauty,
sought it,
championed it,
would have liked to wade right into it, if he could.

"You little troll," said his wife.
She had once been a dancer, but was now a horror,
sucking on black cigarettes,
and as wrinkled around the lips and eyes
as if she had kept them open while kissing Decay on the mouth.

Professor Keskesay could have forgiven her churlish bad temper.
He could have forgiven her grasping, shallow nature;
but her ugliness pained him to his core.

It seemed to him that the beauties of an earlier era
possessed a rare charm that had been somehow lost over time.
How they shone!
How their sepia faces made his heart quicken
and his soul expand!
Why would they not speak to him?

Finally, he could stand it no longer.
Sharp at midnight, he went to the famous cemetery where the beautiful slept.
He passed the poets, disregarded the financiers,
and strode straight to the marker of Babette Jolie-Fille
the celebrated star of the silents.

He dug her up.
"Still enchanting! Still a goddess!" he exclaimed,
casting away his shovel in order to embrace her.
From then on, the joyous Professor Keskesay could be seen
tooling about town in his 1929 convertible,
with Babette leaning against him, her scarves flowing in the wind.

Shyly, blushing like a girl, he confessed to her
that she made him feel more alive than he had felt in years!
How his fine sensitivity had been wasted on his gruesome wife!
He thanked her with diamonds, stoles, and endless passionate desire!
Though she never spoke, he understood her perfectly.
She was the Queen of the Silent Screen,
and to speak would only ruin everything.
How wise she was, in addition to her matchless beauty!

The Professor presently divorced his hideous cow of a wife,
and married Babette, in a necessarily private ceremony.
So composed she always was,
knowing how just the right pose and poise
could bring the world to her doorstep--
a dazzled Mountain coming, hat in hand, to her,
the most voluptuous and female Mohammed ever to grace the garden
where Professor Keskesay liked most to place her chair.

Together, of an evening,
they would watch melting, disintegrating celluloid reels
of Babette in her heyday,
the Professor scarcely glancing at the screen, but rather,
gazing continuously at her, seeing only her fineness and her pulchritude.
After many years of this, the Professor died--
his love had built to such a pitch, that his heart simply burst,
and he keeled over at Babette's tiny feet.

The silent vixen was buried in the cemetery for the famous,
with Professor Keskesay beside her--
her second interment, his first.
Some said she was rotted away,
nothing but bones and gray tendons in a bejeweled gown;
but to the Professor, she was always the ideal of feminine perfection,
and because of this, as any woman who's been truly loved could tell you,
she really was,
and their souls still entwine
demurely out of the sight of unbelievers.

for Izy's Out of Standard at Toads.


L. Edgar Otto said...

Most Excellent and even more to think about...

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh you can spin a tale. I love the clip of the silent film actress......back in the Day, the hidden added allure and mystique. I have been away from the Love Train so long, I dont know if mystique even still exists. But I hope it does.

Hannah said...

Your characters and tale are super-rich...I just knew you'd rock the heck out of this one, Shay! Much enjoyed as always. :)

hedgewitch said...

Nothing less than I would have expected here indeed--surreal sweetness, love unconquered by death or time(or inconvenient reality) an eternal faith and perfect affinity between two meant for each other, all in the most bizarre of frameworks imaginable, which only makes everything more beautiful, really. Love the Prof's name, and the clip as well. I'm leaving humming that old song, 'Beautiful madness, wake unto me...'

Sioux said...


An incredible tale, and how did you include that clip that just kept playing?

You can write poems. You can write stories. And you've mastered the techno-crap part of blogging.


Kay L. Davies said...

Love this, Shay, love the names and the whole hilarious premise, but mostly "so composed" !!
Giggling outrageously here, having a wonderful time.

Helen said...

What a story! The film clip is the perfect companion piece ....

Susie Clevenger said...

What a love story. I think there is such allure in the fantasy of beauty...thank goodness my husband doesn't see what I see in the mirror. :) Great writing as always!!

Isadora Gruye said...

some said this was richy, so I will choose another adjective: velvety delicious in it's villainry. At one point, I want to hate the professor for his vanity, but then I also want to pat him on the back or help him out of a rocking fetal position. I love how the narrator in the poem never speaks to babette's decay until after the professor was dead, as if he cast a glamour over the entire poem. In fact, the only time we see babette decaying while in his company is on celluid, as if those images are nothing to him because he has the real thing.

So well done! Viva la

Poet Laundry said...

That final stanza speaks the truth. The film "Death Becomes Her" came to mind as I read this...all that dark-comedy-fantasy of your extraordinary imagination!

Patricia A. McGoldrick said...

Quite a story! Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder.

Maggie Grace said...

Now THAT is creative writing! Love all your word plays in your captivating descriptions.

Alice said...

I enjoyed this a great deal, especially the last two stanzas. "Together, of an evening" was such perfect phrasing. It almost made me giddy.

I also love this:
"Though she never spoke, he understood her perfectly.
She was the Queen of the Silent Screen,
and to speak would only ruin everything.
How wise she was, in addition to her matchless beauty!"

You made me laugh many times. :)

Like here:
"and married Babette, in a necessarily private ceremony"

And here:
"and married Babette, in a necessarily private ceremony"

What a fun and well-executed story-poem. Superb.

Alice said...

Oops, that last quote was supposed to be this:

"a dazzled Mountain coming, hat in hand, to her,
the most voluptuous and female Mohammed ever to grace the garden
where Professor Keskesay liked most to place her chair."

juzta mum said...

Love the story, love the love in the story.And the touch of that clip..awesome

Kerry O'Connor said...

I sneaked in earlier at work to read this, and it really made my day.
I love the way you have put across the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and taken to the bizarre extreme with dear Professor Keskesay makes it no less true. The way you ended your tale is sheer brilliance. Therein lies the real gift of the story-teller.

Mama Zen said...

This is so unexpectedly sweet and tender. Wow, Shay.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done. Not overwritten and clearly, concisely put together.

Hannah Stephenson said...

What a deliciously creepy story, Shay. Have you ever read the story "Sea Oak" by George Saunders? It's one of my favorites, and very demented--I think you would love it :).

Daryl said...

i love all your writing but i adore, totally adore the longer ones .. this is no exception

Lolamouse said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yes? And to be adored is to feel beautiful. I love "kissing Decay on the mouth!"

TALON said...

Oh, but your creativity is a wonder, Shay. :)

Susan said...

I love this. I was afraid you'd give him a moment of revelation before dying, but you didn't. Cool.

Anonymous said...

It's Naked Lunch without the gratuitous grotesquery and self-indulgence, which is to say awfully damn good.

Anonymous said...

you can be one sick woman sometimes, my dear ~ i LOVE it!

i had to google "pulchritude" which is the WORST word ever for beauty ~ though it does go nicely with what one can imagine Babette looked like to everyone other than Keskesay... oh, wait... that's "putrid", isn't it?