Two dancers from the Moulin
Valentin le Desossť
Elongated as a reflection in a funfair's mirror,
he'd ripple into view at the Chateau des Fleurs or Moulin Rouge.
Top hatted, lantern jawed, a stork legged man, rubber supple,
"the Boneless", he was called.
His partners mostly, "Grid of the Sewer" or "La Goulue";
applause his only take home pay. Each waltz, quadrille, polka,
mazurka he performed, numbered with a bookkeeper's precision.
Where he went, when the fin de siecle neared its full stop,
isn't known. But somewhere, under a plaque, amid dancing grass,
must rest his celebrated bones.
Valentin le Desossť ( 1843-1907) was the stage name of
Jacques or Jules Renaudin, known for his elastic limbs.
Her lanky frame gowned
as if to take afternoon tea, she would step
into the limelight and with a chapel pure voice,
diction crisp as frost sing songs
to make an old salt blush.
Freud and Shaw were at her feet. Lautrec's
paints and crayons couldn't get enough
of her eel fluid arms, hair like autumn maple.
A one-time dressmaker made good, her wit
sharp as a pin, she held all of Paris
in the palms of her black gloves.
Yvette Guilbert (1865-1944) was a singer, famed for her
ribald songs and black gloves.
If you have any thoughts on these poems, Stephen Bone would be
pleased to hear them.