The Uninvited

By Glyn Maxwell b. 1962 Glyn Maxwell
We did not care muchly who, in the murder,
we turned out to be, providing whoever
used to inhabit the white chalk figure
frozenly pawing the blood-stained sofa
was not one of us but a different dier.

Dazzled colonel, distracted lover,
meddling couple of the library whisper,
cook unpoisoned or ponderous super,
sleuth, inheritor, innocent, actual
killer detected or undetected—it

didn’t matter, but not that ended
individual manning the hour
he died in, as we would all one dies
man one hour, one mo, one jiffy.
Let us be Anyone other than Body!

But then we’d go on with the game all summer:
the three allowed queries on the hot verandah,
the fib in the gazebo, the starlit rumour,
the twitching curtain and the dim unhelpful
gardener’s boy: it would all be explicable

soon in the lounge, and we didn’t mind waiting.
No, what we minded was the hairless stranger
who wasn’t invited and wouldn’t answer
and had no secrets or skeletons either
and got up later than us, then later

than even the bodies, and never turned in,
or blamed or suspected or guessed the outcome
but always was exiting, vanishing, going,
seen on the lawn—then there were more of them
massing, unarmed, parting when followed,

combing the country but not for a weapon
or corpse or clue, then halting and singing
unknown thunderous hymns to a leader
new on us all at our country party he’d
caught in the act of an act of murder.

Glyn Maxwell, “The Uninvited” from The Boys at Twilight: Poems 1990-1995. Copyright © 2000 by Glyn Maxwell. Reprinted by permission of Glyn Maxwell.

Source: The Boys at Twilight: Poems 1990-1995 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000)

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Poet Glyn Maxwell b. 1962


Subjects Living, Death, The Body, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Glyn  Maxwell


Born in England to Welsh parents, Glyn Maxwell was educated at Oxford University and Boston University, where he studied both poetry and theater with Derek Walcott. This simultaneous training in two disciplines has enabled him to create innovative work across genres. Maxwell has written numerous verse plays as well as long narrative poems. The Sugar Mile (2005), a verse narrative set in a Manhattan bar a few days before . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Death, The Body, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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