William Kemp

 

 

 

Manuel, The Unfortunate
after Paula Rego’s Last King of Portugal

Both sides of the story of your death
involve striped pyjamas, a maid and the deep rich red
of your bedroom wallpaper. Was your outpost
at Fullwell, Twickenham, private and secure enough
to keep at bay those Republican activists
who might by various means have poisoned you?
Or can we assume you over-exerted yourself
one too many times at tennis, and in so doing
activated some hereditary bronchial condition,
hitherto undetected, with fatal consequence?
None at Scotland Yard had strength or means
to piece together the evidence either way.
Good night, sweet prince.
Let acrylic, graphite and pastel on paper,
mounted on aluminium, be your epitaph.

 

 

William Kemp is a poet, broadcaster and arts professional from Plymouth, who works for the Dartington Hall Trust. He has written articles and reviews on a range of subjects, including jazz, folk and classical music, modern poetry and Shakespeare. He presents and produces a weekly arts show for Soundart Radio.

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