Burnout Ballad

by Polly Fullerton

Staring through the mirror-glass
She primes the wreck to be,
Marble-eyed and mobilized
To scorn philanthropy

No accounting for the sheets
Hard-tossed with sanguine love;
Preening as a courtesan
With kohl reminiscent of

The blackened air around a flame
That gutters in the breaths
Of would-be lovers, half and half,
Where only one bequests

A sentiment of something more
Than equanimity,
There lingers here an aftertaste:
La Belle Dame sans Merci!

But in the sweat of grating skin
And melodrama queer,
She may white-flag through all her tears
A spell of lovely fear

And when the act is dead as rope
She’ll smear her ember eyes
Across the virgin lily-silk –
A hanging compromise

Retreating back behind the door
To purge the depthless glass
With arrogance and seamlessness
And mouthing de-ca-dence

She’ll clock within an hour or two
A waking-time of sense
And regret that she did not slip out
A smirk at his expense

And the mirror-glass will echo her
In rude delicacy
Whilst the smoky air renounces
True celibacy.