The Travelers (poem)

Posted by ractrose on 3 Nov 2021 in Art, Poems

Charcoal and pastel drawin of gallery of faces




The Travelers


Time travelers, playbills in hand, shaking the dazzle from their eyes

Finding they are on the steps

of the old Melodia, tall in her glory

The invention new, the first of occasions

On which the taboo will be tried

Shiloh willing, his ancestor the songstress

Who will die


March 14 the air electric “I am so interested,” whispers Trinity

When and how will we make the intercept?

Their voices to the crowd sound foreign

They had sourced with care, but are overdressed

Not so dusted, creased and faded

In velvets made with modern dyes

The travelers too are broader-shouldered

And their teeth gleam fearfully white

And Trinity has on buttoned shoes

from a Victorian cos-supplier

these so symmetrically constructed

So shining black with factory treatment

They strike the nineteenth century eye

Odd, in some unnamable, aggressive way


A guy, a fellow, wearing a brass-buttoned coat

And such muttonchops adorning his face

And such an oily face it is

Wants to know if he can be of help to them

At Nicol’s giggle, wants to know

Can they show their tickets, then?

Of course, of course, but may we meet the stars?

I, says Shiloh, have a relative, playing the ingenue’s part


Miss Bolin?

Muttonchops stares him close in the face

A squall intervenes, and the man’s lips move

While rain, terrible rain, a third day’s rain, puddles the street

And gives illusion to the building’s Empire façade

Of stonework melting like summer ice

But the roof won’t give until half-past nine


Look at them swells, in this weather, afoot

Muttonchops says, to a uniformed arrival

An usher, he is, of childlike stature

And wizened brow

Think Miss Bolin’s specially expecting em?

The usher laughs

Tickets! Hey? Tickets!

Else go run your con down the Chapin

Shiloh wonders if anyone really says, My good man

Listen up, runt, he says instead, we’ll take three


No, Nicol clamps the usher’s shoulder. Plenty

room in the back rows Lots of empty seats tonight

Get us three near the lobby door


Nervous, Shi? says Trinity

No. I’m ready to spar

with the Dark of the Heavens.

Big smile.

Only I don’t think they’ll let us speak to her

Shout. Just shout, says Nicol

Shout, Shiloh whispers, fire in a crowded theater?


Keep your voice down.

But when? says Trinity

Witness reports… I hadn’t thought of it

9:30? By whose watch?


They said the audience had been hearing beams creak

That a boom rang out, but a silence came after

That Miss Willadene Bolin, with enchanting candor

Broke character, and said to the orchestra, “My!”

Then the violins for a second took up,

And the singer produced a trill of notes





The Travelers

Oil painting of orange landscapeUncollected Poems
















(2021, Stephanie Foster)




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