Alice Kavounas


No one else in Nixon’s White House

goes to the theater you boasted,

showing off those prized tickets.

Sitting in the spacious President’s Box,

just the two of us, all I kept seeing that night

was the ghost of Lincoln lurching forward

from my privileged seat, imagining the shock

of the assassin’s shots to the back of his head

timed expertly to coincide with moments

of loudest laughter during  that evening’s

performance of Our American Cousin, a comedy.

Lincoln was pronounced dead by dawn, sparking

America’s largest man hunt.  All this

only days after Appomattox, Virginia’s courthouse

where General Lee surrendered his 28,000 troops

to General Grant’s Union forces. A mix of

desperation and revenge drove the dashing

Confederate sympathiser John Wilkes Booth to murder.

John, a minor actor, forever eclipsed

his well-known brother Edwin’s fame

with his singular performance  that April evening in 1865.

      Note:  When the troops finally caught up with Booth they gave him the chance to surrender. Booth refused, and died in the fire of a burning  barn.

ALICE KAVOUNAS went to Forest Hills High, then Vassar. She lives on the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, which reminds her of summers in Southampton Shores. She created the Poetry in Place iPhone app Words in Air with developer John Kennedy which pinpoints the places in the UK which have inspired contemporary and classic poets.  Her fourth collection is Abandoned Gardens New & Selected (Shearsman). Alice  worked for decades as an advertising copywriter in NY and London before escaping to Cornwall, where she was asked to start and lead a postgrad course in — yes, creative advertising.  Alice  is a tutor via The Poetry School London.