Guest Poem by Alexander Peplow

Alexander Peplow is an administrator and historian who lives and works in Oxfordshire. His work has been published in a couple of local poetry magazines, and he has twice won Oxford University's Jon Stallworthy poetry prize. This poem is from Acumen 107.

Sack and Sugar

Let us imagine Falstaff as a cake.

He sits there, a great cherry-in-a-chair,
and lets us watch him, studying out
his layers. Fruitcake, sure, in all
its connotations, thumb-pressed through
with candied peel or currants
concealed like other people would
have tender points held close to heart.

But cream, as well, a-lather
and thwarting easy view, being, as it is, old
in the cracked corners of large mouths
held open long from laughing
distracting from the eyes and their perception.
And after that the plain sponge of an honest man.
And then the marzipan: its own, acquired, taste
of jokes and tricks and playing dead
and bankrupting our trusting friends
by offering them icing: patterned, sweet.

Then after all the looking, guess
its weight, its measure. Get it right:
and choose exactly where to stick the knife.