The Profile On The Pillow

After our fierce loving
in the brief time we found to be together,
you lay in the half light
exhausted, rich,
with your face turned sideways on the pillow
and I traced the exquisite
line of your profile, dark against the white,

delicate and lovely as a child’s.
you will cease to love me.
or we may be consumed in the holocaust,

but I keep, against the ice and the fire,
the memory of your profile on the pillow.

–Dudley Randall



Why are our ancestors

always kings and princes

and never the common people?

Was the Old Country a democracy

where every man was a king?

Or did the slave-catchers

steal only the aristocrats

and leave the fieldhands


street cleaners

garbage collectors

dish washers


and maids


My own ancestor

(research reveals)

was a swineherd

who tended the pigs

in the Royal Pigstye

and slept in the mud

among the hogs.

Yet I’m as proud of him

as of any king or prince

dreamed up in fantasies

of bygone glory.

–Dudley Randall