Alice O. Howell          



I knew a golden man

     who had a golden wife

for all the awesome privilege

     he led a silver life

his fortunes were unsteady

     his slippers made of tin

and climbing up to bed at night

     they made an awful din

quicksilver were his daughters

     of iron was his son

but by a copper-headed beauty

     his fate was then undone

all metals became coins to him

     to pay a lover's wiles

her flesh seemed made of petals

     and oh! her flower-secret smiles!

he smelted and he melted

     distilling down to lead

an alchemy of error

     that left him almost dead

his tinctures and elixirs

     were spilled upon the earth

till the proper putrefaction

     gave homuncular rebirth

today he is a wizard

     who wears a cotton gown

who cannot touch a metal

     or smile without a frown.