Lord Mayor Magpie

There he waltzes, / this debonair / line dancer in mid-air

A black-and-white photo of the poet, Eric Ormsby, who is a white-haired man wearing glasses and a collared shirt. The background is blue.

Because he sticks his chest right out
when he condescends to the ground,
we think him arrogant:
there’s parade-ground posh
to his strut. Shrewdest
of our local lords,
Magpie idles in a limousine
of black feather with a slash of white
piping that outshines all chrome,
and this makes of him the spiffiest parade;
he has the brazen glamour of a motorcade.

I’ve seen royalty arrayed
in the print of his greedy feet.
Lord Mayor Magpie,
in his ermine and brocade,
doesn’t merely foot the lawn:
he processes.
An invisible cavalcade
canters behind him as he strides.

Once I saw him drop
from a derelict rooftop.
There was furious pleasure
in his swoop.
He checked his plunge and soared.
And there was braggadocio in his fall.
He flexed and corrected the air
with the mischief of a pedant
as he emended the dead letter
of descent. Though he meant to refute,
he turned acclamatory
between the third and fourth storey
and flew up to his mate
perched there on the parapet.

Our vacant crevices, our dull lintels,
are Lord Mayor Magpie’s ballroom.
There he waltzes,
this debonair
line dancer in mid-air,
domino dapper
with morning-coat manners,
stiff tailed, caustic of caw,
parliamentary of demeanour,
our nimble-kneed Astaire

who refuses all obeisance
to Lagerfeld or Wintour.
His black eye crackles, his attire is dour.
He favours classic all-occasion wear.

Eric Ormsby
Eric Ormsby is a professor at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, UK. His poetry appears widely, in such magazines as The New Yorker and The Paris Review.