Pamela Sumners

You think you don’t know me, but you do.

I am Eliot’s eternal snickering footman,

the Anti-Christ’s Groom of the Stool.

My job lacks the refinement of a cabinet post,

but most of the time it has its perks. I know all

the murky details, and I have all the skeleton keys

to all the closets, and every one of them works.


You can find me at the bar, wearing my club jacket,

and I never drink alone. I’m the freaking Al Capone

in charge of investigating the misdeeds of myself.

I give a sweet caress to the hyoid bone of Elliott Ness.

I used to dine with Jeff Epstein and still spit-shine

frumpy old Billy Barr’s valise and sole-less Weejuns.


Sometimes I break out the Ouija board to chat up

Mussolini, and sometimes, over a very dry martini,

we toast Mother Pence and break a crostini into

communion-size bits in remembrance of Scalia. Sure,

I aspire to the cosmopolitan pages of Esquire, like

Beto, but wind up in The Inquirer instead. Alas, alak!

Poor Yorick. I’ll go to my squeaky Procrustean bed

with tee-time with the Taliban dancing in my head.


A man in my position might be called a martinet,

but I assure you, I am held in high trust, guarding

both the scepter and the flashy family jewels, rooting

through the waste, hurling prophets from the parapets.

A man in my position, a penny in the pocket of the throne,

sees the carefully choreographed musical chairs here, all

serving at the ruling sovereign’s whim or as we say, pleasure,

arranging themselves in mad shapes to escape the jesters’

bullets enacted daily in the Star Chamber where the curtain falls

and they scamper and scurry into their hidey-holes in the wall.


You don’t know me, but I pay the hush money and the blood money

to the laundress removing all the stains from the Emperor’s new clothes. 

Pamela Sumners is a constitutional and civil rights lawyer from Alabama. In 2018 and 2019, her work has been recognized or published by about 30 journals in the US, UK, Scotland, Ireland, and Singapore. She was selected for 2018's 64 Best Poets (Halcyone/Black Mountain Press) and was a 2018 Pushcart nominee. She is a member of the American Academy of Poets. She now lives in St. Louis with her wife, their son, and three rescue hounds.

©2018 HighShelfPress. 

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