Monday, November 22, 2021

Stage Set:The Ninth Tailor


Stage Set:The Ninth Tailor 

"Nine tailors make a man." ~anon.
The night was dark-haired and delirious.
The cheeky moon clung precariously
to a crooked branch, a bibulous marquess
embracing a lamp post, ready
to strut a whole dancehall
for a cigarette and another chance.

It was the last act of a first edition.
Drying at the prompt, they walked on the
edge of a feather. She'd stopped feeling sorry;
her heart was a trespasser in Vienna,
silent at the soiree instead of begging to
strip to the skin pour épater les bourgeois.
He knew he was passing his prime,
going flabby at center, his bons mots
withering like December dahlias. He'd lost count
 of the hands that had picked his pocket, stroked
his celebrated champagne hair, each morning
  combed back unsteadily at the hotel

before the bitter waver in the mirror.
When the curtain came down
it was too weak to exist in more than
one dimension, but it knocked the play
into next week, and left behind its mournful bell
broken at the ninth tailor.

November 2021

posted for Fireblossom's word list at

epater les bourgeois: to shock or startle the coventional
Nine tailors: "As explained by John Shand in his 1936 Spectator article The Bellringers' Art, 'Nine Tailors' means the nine strokes which at the beginning of the toll for the dead announce..that a man is dead. A woman's death is announced with 'Six Tailors'. Hence the old saying ... '" ~wikipedia

Images: The Human Parody, circa 1878 © Felicien Rops
The Hanged Man At The Bell,  1867, © Felicien Rops


  1. Oh, I am chuckling with delight here, not because of anything funny, but because this is just such a damned pleasure to read! Please do not kick me for quoting but I just loved the "bibulous marquess", the French phrase and the "December dahlias" among so many others. The whole atmosphere is of a thing and a crowd ripe beyond peak, a party gone on too long, and the fizz giving way to hangover. This theater is one where the curtains have begin to fray and the neighborhood is declining downhill into a party favor strewn path to the graveyard. Just delicious use of the list words, dear. I love it.

    1. Thanks, Shay. I really enjoyed writing for your list. Pure pleasure instead of a grind, as too often the writing is for me these days. Thanks so much for the chance to play with these words. And I never mind you quoting, so never hesitate if that's what you want to do.

  2. To me, you've captured the zeitgeist of an age. I don't know what pre-war Berlin or Vienna was like, or New York in the last 20's, but that flabby, withered-mot man is everyman then and now.

    Does figure it only takes 3 fates, but 9 tailors for we men - overcompensating, as usual, for our champagne hair. ~

    1. Thanks, M. Very much a period piece, but as you note, we're all always the same under the costumes. As a child of the 60's I tend to be fond of a profusion of hair on men, so personal foible. ;) Feel free to join us over at Shay's, btw; she's going to do this list thing every week.

    2. I did visit and read the other posts. Glad Shay is taking up the mantle again, and will perhaps join one of these weeks ~

  3. Strutting, stroking, stripping .... his bons mots withering like December ~~~ the visuals, OH the visuals!

  4. He could live in any generation, this marquees man, you have fashioned - you have captured a breeds characteristics so eloquently; an ignoble noble, yet, his humanity - fragility - and all of ours - shows true, under the light.

    This is so sophisticated, I enjoyed reading it over and over, until I absorb (or, at least, think I have most of it!) and understood it all.

    1. Thanks, Darius. I had a lot of fun writing it, and even more fun reading yours--took a trip without leaving the farm, as it were. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. You have captured a time, a feeling, a man, and so much in this Joy! The imagery is sweet frosting to the delight that this already is to read! It has also been so much fun to see how everyone is using the words in such different ways! I guess I have not done a word list in a very long time.

  6. "left behind its mournful bell / broken at the ninth tailor" - fantastic. Good you put up an explanation of the "Nine Tailors" for folks, bell ringing not really part of our culture anymore.

  7. wow, i really missed a lot of poems. i have to stop here tonight. this is so elegantly written, and i can feel your compassion in every detail, and all of your details fall into the right place at the right time, all your sounds ring exactingly, precise, and well, i'll say it again, elegant. enjoyed this very much


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats