Bacon has a mouth that looks
unhappy, always tries
to monopolize the conversation.
Beheads his best friend, the Earl of Essex.
Honor is a luxury only gentlemen
can afford. Oriented to masculine love:
certain observations made upon a libel,
likes to be pinched. Repeats chance
experiments; one thing he can’t counterfeit.
All the lies I’ve told will come back
to haunt me one day. Shouts into the wind,
scatters fingernail parings. “We charge you with
twenty-three counts of corruption.” It is my act,
my hand, my heart; I beseech your lordships
to be merciful to a broken reed. Tactfully
acknowledges disaster: part of the itch-scratch
cycle. To prove he’s part of the “in” crowd,
attempts to buy the queen’s bed.
On a journey to Highgate,
he’s inspired to use snow
to preserve meat: knowledge is power.
On the spot, buys and kills a chicken.
After stuffing it with snow,
he contracts a fatal case of pneumonia.
Lying in a damp bed,
suffocates from excessive
defluxion of rheum.
When the book of hearts is opened,
I shall not be found to have the troubled
fountain of a corrupt heart.
Deborah Flanagan has had work appear in many journals, including AGNI, Drunken Boat, FIELD, Ploughshares, and the Southern Review, among others. Her manuscript Or, Gone was the winner of Tupelo Press’s Snowbound Series Chapbook Award, and she was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in the Lower East Side of New York City.
“No Bed for Francis Bacon” appears in our Summer 2013 issue.