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Entries: Round 21

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“My Last Duchess’s Last Lunch”

(with apologies to Robert Browning)

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,

Eating her last lunch. I call

That piece a wonder, now: Keller’s hands

Worked busily a day, and there she stands.

Will ‘t please you sit and look at her? I said

“Keller” by design: for never saw

Strangers like you that succulent foie gras,

The rosy ripeness of the plump cherries,

But to myself they turned (since none puts by

The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)

And seems as if they would ask me, if they durst,

How such delicacies came there; so, not the first,

Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ‘t was not

Her husband’s presence only, called that spot

Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps

Emeril chanced to say “Her napkin laps

Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or Bourdain, “Wine

Must never hope to reproduce the faint

Half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuff

Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough

For calling up that spot of joy. She had

A stomach—how shall I say?—too soon made full,

Too easily satiated; she tasted whate’er

She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.

Sir, ‘t was all one! My favor at her plate,

The streaming of the cabernet in her cup,

The bough of cherries some officious fool

Broke in the orchard for her, the white goose

She hand fed hour by hour—all and each

Would draw from her alike the approving speech,

Or blush, at least. She thanked men,—good ! but thanked

Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked

My gift of a two-pound truffle

With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame

This sort of trifling? Even had you skill

In cooking—(which I have not)—to make your will

Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this

Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,

Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let

Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set

Her teeth at you, forsooth, and asked for toothpicks,

—E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose

Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,

Whene’er I passed her a dish; but who passed her dishes

Without much the same smile? This grew; I commanded the chefs;

Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands

As if alive. Will ‘t please you rise? We’ll meet

The company below, then. I repeat,

The Count your master’s known generosity

Is ample warrant that no scruple of appetite will go unwhetted;

Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed

At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go

Together down, sir. Notice Julia, though,

Basting a turkey, thought a rarity,

Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!


link to the Browning poem I'm shamlessly borrowing from:


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The wispy blond hair was still visible through the police car window as the detective drove away. The murmurs in the crowd were slowly graduating to a dull roar with the guesses as to “how’d she do it?”

The place, a mansion in the hills of California. The victim, the woman’s husband, a wealthy developer with a gourmet tongue. The accused, his beautiful chef-wife. The method? As of yet, no one knew. The group gathered at the foot of the house was the beleaguered staff. The maid was the one who found the man dead. The butler saw the wife running up to her bedroom with a large bloody sheet covering an object (the weapon he proposed). Drivers, the nanny, and the rest of the staff were picking the brains of the witnesses, trying to gauge not why the murder took place, but how?

The husband was a deplorable sort who sent his wife to the kitchen every time he wanted to a snack. Ten years ago, with one fell swoop, he landed himself a wife and a cook. He refused to let her up on one duty even if the other was tiring the hell out of her.

“Get me a snack! Wear the La Perla lingerie! Make me a stew in your stilettos!” His demands were more than one could take. Many in the staff wondered why it took so long for the marriage to come to this abrupt end.

Detectives were still inside searching the house; meanwhile, the staff was getting annoyed with the wait. Each member starting shouting how they think the deed was completed and where she hid the weapon.

“It was the bone marrow in the belfry!”

“No, it was the sausages in the study!”

“I know, it had to be the lamb shank in the library.”

The butler interrupted this last suggestion, “I do hope your wrong about that last one, let’s hope she came up with something a little more interesting than a rip off of ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’”.

Everyone nodded in agreement and then were silenced by a policeman walking out, the weapon in hand.

“You were all wrong,” he said with a flourish as he raised the object, “It was the Le Creuset in the closet.”

Shannon Elise May 15, 2004

Edited by Shannon_Elise (log)

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It is an ancient Marinater,

And he addeth one, two, three:

Of pit of peach and chicken raw

And oysters far from sea.

I fear thee, ancient Marinater!

I fear thy treach’rous hand!

I fear thy swift and glittering knife;

I fear and cannot stand.

The Bridgroom’s doors are opened wide,

And I am next of kin;

The guests are met, the feast is set:

All hail the great din-din.

The many men, so beautiful!

And they all dead did lie:

And a thousand thousand slimy things

Lived on; and so did I.

-Alex, with great and grateful apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge-

May I have my apron now? :biggrin:

Edited to improve two lines.

Edited yet again to add this link to the original poem.

Edited by Alex (log)

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