Three Speakeasy Poems For The Soul: Curated by Chip Martin

House Event | 7th May 2020

The host of The Mortimer House Speakeasy chooses three poems from our poetry performance gatherings in The Living Room & Den to ease the soul in challenging times

The Speakeasy at Mortimer House has within a year-or-so of its existence has seen many a gorgeous performance–the songs of Felicity Buirski and Lail Arad, the prose of Lucy George and George Stubbs, the a cappella covers by Marta and Oliver and Betsy de Lotbiniere, as well as poems from Dino and Polly and Miguel Cullen, and so many others whose names could be mentioned, but this is not about listing. It is about lamenting the fact that we have not been able to continue our gatherings of late, for reasons obvious. Whatever you may think about the current lockdown, I’m sure it’s the fervent wish of everyone involved that all our fellow troubadours and wordsmiths stay healthy and survive to carry on with revels and revelations on a future day. Here to keep the flame ignited, a poem each from three of our most enthusiastic participants, Cary Amato, Miguel Cullen and Courtney Murray.

Ave, Salve, Vale!

Chip Martin

Cary Amato: The Air You Breathe

If these be the words
That bare my soul
Then you know
How deeply
You exist in me
How all you are
Communicates in me
How loved you are
If these be the words
Never will they be unwritten
Nor if the rain
Washed away all ink
It would have to wash me down
To ocean caverns
And still then
You would be the ripples
That dance upon the waters face
Where fish would feed
And moonbeam shimmers
Above the depth
Where from I
Would still find a way
To make love
Of your name 

Schadenfreude by Courtney Murray

What kind of word is this? 
A German word and a lovely one too.
Roll it off your tongue 
As it’s difficult to swallow.
As a young girl, I mistook schadenfreude
For a word that seemed to me 
Must be a delicious pastry.
A sticky one that is as sweet 
As it is evil once judged only 
By its nutritive content. 
Fully grown, suddenly the real 
Meaning behind schadenfreude 
Slaps me in the face 
Like a fish flailing madly 
In one last attempt 
To escape being caught. 
I find myself longing for the eyes 
Of my unenlightened youth,
Falsehoods which held a sweeter taste 
Even if artificial. 
Now feeling shrunken,
Broken-hearted and ever so 
Slightly bent by scoliosis. 
I may walk streets no longer paved 
In gold but feel strangely stronger, 
Lighter and all the wiser. 
Forced to live amongst the schadenfreude, its shadow pours sickly faux caramel flavouring all over me. 
I swim up for air in refusal of being drowned in the cloying taste 
Of bittersweet bullshit. 
There is a light so I spin
Full frontal to face the flashbulbs, 
And smile at crowds 
Surely filled up with false friends 
All prone to schadenfreude(l) tendencies.
Knowing, nothing they do 
Will taint my greenery   
Or soil my view of human nature.
Your garden is still beautiful, 
So please don’t burst my bubble 
With your schadenfreude ways.
Promise to invite me to light up 
Your doorway angelic and proud
Carrying the finest German pastry 
And this time we will share. 

County Lines by Miguel Cullen

Great tits play at Statues, on the long lilted limb. 

Open their bills into flambeaux, tiges dérangées, 

On the throats of the magnolia 

Zorzales are at their morning-time zarzuela,
They’re looking at their watches 

The white-corseted orange blossom: the moon,

Its sister, the orange –

A ballet dancer in bone lingerie watching the star from the parterre.

Maussade, piangete, piano
But play

In goose feathers, feel its goosebumps, in the no-fly zone 

Me to bowed ribbons from the tinselated light of spring


The floor, picaflor, my sign… 

Image by Will Klinzman