Carolyn Wells

(1869-1942 / the United States)

Styx River Anthology - Poem by Carolyn Wells


They may say all they like
About germs and micro-crocuses -
Or whatever they are!
But my set opinion is, -
If you want to get a good, old-fashioned chills and fever,
Just poke around
In a damp, messy place by the sea,
Without rubbers on.
A good cold wind,
Blowing out of a cloud, by night,
Will give you a harder shaking ague
Than all the bacilli in the Basilica.
It did me.


No, it wasn't suicide,
But I had heard so much of those mud baths,
I thought I'd try one.
Ugh! it was a mess!
Weeds, slime, and tangled vines! Oh, me!
Had I been Annette Kellerman
Or even a real mermaid,
I had lived to tell the tale.
But I slid down and under,
And so Will Shaxpur told it for me.
Just as well.
But I think my death scene is unexcelled
By any in cold print.
It beats that scrawny, red-headed thing of Tom Hood's
All hollow!


To be honest,
I didn't mind dying,
For I had
One of these here now
Dressy deaths.
It was staged, you know,
And, like Samson,
My death brought down the house.
I was a smarty kid,
And they were less frequent then than later.
Oh, I was the Mary Pickford of my time,
And I rest content
With my notoriety.


Yes, I am in my grave,
And you bet it makes a difference to him!
For we were to be married, - at least, I think we were,
And he'd made me promise to deed him the house.
But I had to go and get appendicitis,
And they took me to the hospital.
It was a nice hospital, clean,
And Tables Reserved For Ladies.
Well, my heart gave out.
He came and stood over my grave,
And registered deep concern.
And now, he's going round with that
Hen-minded Hetty What's-her-name!
Her with her Whistler's Mother and her Baby Stuart
On her best-room wall!
And I hate her, and I'm glad she squints.
Well, I suppose I lived my life,
But it was a life in name only.
And I'm mad at the whole world!


I couldn't help weeping with delight
When the boys kissed me and called me sweet.
It was foolih, I know,
To weep when I was glad;
But I was young and I wasn't very well.
I was nervous, weak, anemic,
A sort of human mimosa; and I hadn't much brains,
And my mind wouldn't jell, anyhow.
That's why I trembled with fear when they frowned.
But they didn't frown often,
For I was sweetly pretty and most pliable.
But, oh, the grim joke of asking Ben Bolt if he remembered me!
Why, it was Ben Bolt who -
Well, never mind. He paid for this granite slab,
And it's as stylish as any in the church yard.
But I wish I had a more becoming shroud.


I was one of those long, lanky, loose-jointed girls
Who fool people into believing
They are willowy and psychic and mysterious.
I was always hungry; I never ate enough to satisfy me,
For fear I'd get fat.
Oh, how little the world knows of the bitterness of life
To a woman who tries to keep thin!
Many thought I died of a broken heart,
But it was an empty stomach.
Then Mr. Rossetti wrote about me.
He described me all dolled up in some ladies' wearing apparel
That I wore at a fancy ball.
I had fasted all day, and had my hair marcelled
And my face corrected.
And I
a dream.
But he seemed to think he really saw me,
Seemed to think I appeared to him after my death.
Oh, fudge!
Those spiritualists are always seeing things!


Yes, it was the eternal triangle,
Only they didn't call it that then.
Of course everybody thought I was all broken up
When I found Annie wed to Philip,
But, as a matter of fact,
I didn't care much;
For she was one of those self-starting weepers,
And a man can't stand blubbering all the time.
And, then, of course,
When I was off on that long sea trip -
Oh, well, you know what sailors are.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 13, 2010

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