Poetry Journal

Issues / Volume 5 Issue 2 , November 2015


L’esprit d’escalier

Geoff Page

  All those things one cannot say,
  the niceties, the need for tact,
  the things you’d never tell your kids,
  the silence of the Marriage Act,
  the ‘Spirit of the Staircase’, which
  pursues you lightly down the stairs,
  the barbed riposte you could have made
  that might have caught him unawares
  and sparked a nasty sort of laugh.
  You would have smiled to see him wince.
  Most cruelty does not work well.
  The arguments do not convince.
  Some words, I’ve found, are slow to fade. 
  My second wife once called me smug.
  Should I have called her something worse?
  I let it pass with half a shrug.
  I must admit though there are times
  when disagreement can’t be shirked.
  It’s been some years since Christ’s advice
  re ‘other cheek’ has really worked.
  Trolls that throng the internet
  pop straight up to have their say.
  Not all of them wear pseudonyms.
  They want your head served on a tray. 
  Across the reach of etiquette,
  there must be much that stays unsaid. 
  Feel free to laugh at funerals though.
  There are no lawyers for the dead.