PROFUMO DEAD AT 91: Heard today that Britain's former Secretary of State For War John Profumo had died at age 91. I've been fascinated by the "Profumo Affair" for years, so it was actually a little sad to learn that he had passed on. He's even namechecked in one of my poems, Acid Flashback #1, which is included in Slow To Burn.

Profumo had an affair with Christine Keeler in 1963 and the scandal rocked staid English politics and society. She was accused of being a spy for the Russians and sleeping around with top politicos to gain state secrets. The story was made into the fantastic film Scandal starring Joanne Whalley-Kilmer as Keeler and Ian McKellen as Profumo. After the affair, Profumo left politics and worked in charity for 40 years. As the story goes, Profumo walked into a charity shop in London the day after his resignation and asked if they needed help with any of the washing. He remained devoted to helping the poor for the rest of his life. That's class in my opinion.

So, once again, here's the poem (which originally appeared in HomeGround in the UK) this time dedicated to John Profumo.

Acid Flashback #1

The first time I dropped acid,
mistaking a Johnnie Walker Black billboard
for Joanne Whalley-Kilmer straddling a chair
like in the poster for Scandal,
you couldn’t see it, even after we pulled over
on the expressway down near the airport.
How the soft gold of the striding man logo
had morphed into arms and legs akimbo
in the rising heat just before twilight.
I tried to explain Christine Keeler,
how she brought down the British government
with her showgirl appeal, accused
of being a spy, sleeping with the Muscovites,
the intricacies and absurdities of the Profumo Affair,
how sex and friendship can turn on a dime.
You told me I was too old for you, I was a show off,
ruining your drugs with my ancient history,
the way I lorded my high school education over you.
Your words tipped us into cold war,
smoke-screened the wall you were building all year,
preparing to sacrifice me over the three years
that separated our births, making me a casualty
of your zeitgeist.
John Profumo was the last Secretary of State for War,
a position now made obsolete, struck off,
as if battle plans would never be needed again.


Anonymous said…
I like that poem, but its weird. Its kind of random and all over the place but it works because it does have that feeling of being on acid. And I should know. Those last three lines are killer and the last one has so many different meanings. Cool.

Anonymous said…
well, not totally random. That sounds like Im being mean. I like how you juxtapose (i had to look that word up because I couldnt remember it)the Profumo with what happened with you and the guy (which guy was it again?). "Lording your high school education..." Love that!
jenni said…
Love the poem! Very spontaneous and unpredictable. I like how the two sets of relationships, tho different, have similarities, and the language and metaphor is interesting--very fresh. More!
Collin said…
Gav...speaking of rambling... lol

Jenni...thanks so much! I'll be posting more poems in the future. :)
the skank said…
i sure do miss dropping acid... sometimes.

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