THAT NIGHT AT THE THEATER
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.