Guest Poem by Geoffrey Winch

Geoffrey Winch lives in West Sussex where he is associated with a number of local creative writing groups. His poetry has been widely published in journals and anthologies in the UK and US for more than three decades, and his latest collections are Velocities and Drifts of Winds (Dempsey & Windle, 2020) and Coffee at Cockburn’s (Felworth Books, 2023) – a collaboration with Cherrie Taylor. He and Cherrie were also instrumental in establishing the new Swanbourne Poets group in Arundel. This poem is from Acumen 108.

Walter Palmer

(from Encounters with Oscar)

plays painters parties poets –
Oscar’s social round never ceasing

Ernest Dowson, Aubrey Beardsley
and always Reggie and Robbie

fascination of the fond-of
and the influential

Lillie Langtry, Henry Irving
and always Reggie and Robbie

meeting acquaintances
with or without family

Max Beerbohm, Sarah Bernhardt
and always Reggie and Robbie –

then at Westfield, among notables,
at a Reading garden party

Oscar, Constance, Cyril, Vyvyan
(not sure about Reggie and Robbie)

relaxing in the generous grounds
of a Palmer son

Walter and his wife, Jean

vivacious company promising
a visit to their famous factory
(just across the road from the gaol . . . )

Cyril and Vyvyan,

with permission testing, tasting biscuits
straight from the ovens then,

Oscar Wilde – with a flourish

freely signed the visitor book,
September 1892