Lady Today

Jason O’Toole


Three Moral Ladies
to the sporting house went.
They blessed the red lantern
above often-swung door.
Blessed parlor covered all
over in purple & pall.

Blessed businessmen
& men of leisure,
chewing free lunch amid
oncogenic clouds –
Virginia tobacco, boozy swigs.
To make quarry,
daughters of lesser men.

A switch of willow
did each Lady possess:
One for Yesterday, that mislaid map,
country from which all are exiled.

For Tomorrow unborn, a second switch
hid beneath her Lady’s heavy shawl,
that none but she might know,
whether it be green
or dead.

That third switch, a scourge
wielded in tireless fist
by Lady Today.

Upturned a cart,
gin & goblets, struck
down lunch tray
sent pickled eggs
& seedless rye to skin
beetle consumed,
foot-worn oriental.

Stung men’s knuckles, wounded eyes.
Sniffed out Yesterday’s cut flowers,
lifeless yet standing
in scummy water.

Upstairs to stalk bleach fumed halls,
Lady Today knocked
off their hooks, rude pictures.

The landlady charged:
Stay your brutish hand, Lady Today!

The switch broke, fell
at her un-stockinged feet.
Plain face in gilded mirror,
obliterated.
Forgot her name
& was no more.


Jason O’Toole is an Andover, MA based poet and author of two collections published by The Red Salon, Spear of Stars (2018) and Soulless Heavens (2019) which contains the Rhysling Award nominated poem “Samsara.” Involved in the underground music scene for over thirty years, he collaborates with Providence based composer-musician Alec K. Redfearn and Slovakian neo-classicist, Herr Lounge Corps. Current poems may be found at Avatar Review, The Scrib Arts Journal, The Wild Word, and Heroin Love Songs. Visit his website and Amazon author page.