Poe’s Dead Ladies

by flammeusgladius

Poe’s Dead Ladies



Though they were never Ivory girls, they’re clean

As wind-washed, rain-rinsed marble: I have grown

To love them and to love the way they stay

Forever out of reach of Poe and me.

Though they are past the point of speech, they say

The damnedest things in silence: I have known

True love – ill-fated, somber, and pristine—

Only in sight of them, outside their arms.

Though they are virgins now, though they will be

Virgins forever, they pronounced the doom

Upon my precious, pimply innocence.

And though I spend my life counting their charms,

I see their chief attraction: ever since

I’ve known them, they’ve been safely in the tomb.



–Tom Riley



(First appeared in Star*Line, May-June 1988.)