.

Jeffrey Epstein in His Cell

On nights like this a lesser man might pray;
Instead he dreams of islands in his cell
And sends his thoughts a thousand miles away
To there await the hour of his farewell.

The things he knew, the secrets he could sell;
Whatever worth they had was now long spent,
And taut interrogators would not tell
Who made the call or why or what it meant.

Now footsteps echo faintly through the vent
And soon will follow lies that none believe;
Is it an agent or some devil sent
To ferry him to Hell or Tel Aviv?

In reverence he kneels to greet the power
Now come at last to rescue or devour.

.

.

Ghislaine Maxwell on the Beach

For half a second she had slipped away
And found herself inside some gloomy cell.
Now, briefly blinded by the bright of day
She grips the sand with curling toes to quell

The memories of Jeffrey and Brunel*
And the uneasy knowledge she had spent
All credit with her cruel clientele
So each day lived is lived by their consent.

A swollen sun completes its slow descent
And soon will follow sleep and some reprieve
From paradise, where silence pays the rent
And all of power’s promises deceive.

She’ll wait alone in her cool island bower
To die another day, another hour.

.

*Jean-Luc Brunel was a French model scout accused of trafficking young girls for the Epstein network. He was found dead in his cell in December 2020 where he was awaiting trial on charges of criminal conspiracy and the rape of minors. His death was ruled a suicide.

.

.

Shaun C. Duncan is a picture framer and fine art printer who lives in Adelaide, South Australia.


NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

NOTE TO POETS: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to mbryant@classicalpoets.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here.


CODEC News:

20 Responses

  1. Paul Erlandson

    These are very fine, indeed, Shaun!

    I love the believe / Tel Aviv rhyme in the first.

    In the second, “where silence pays the rent” is so sublime.

    But each is good throughout. Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Shaun C. Duncan

      Thanks for kind words, Paul – I’m glad you liked them.

      Reply
    • Shaun C. Duncan

      Thank you. Some sort of psychopompic reference seemed appropriate as both poems take place in a kind of transitional realm between life and death.

      Reply
  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    Brrrr…! These are really cold, chilling pieces. The closing couplet in the first sonnet hits the reader like a bucket of ice water.

    Reply
    • Shaun C. Duncan

      Thank you Joseph. That’s precisely the effect I was hoping to achieve.

      Reply
  3. Adam Wasem

    I love when a piece is so deadpan it achieves its own sincerity. What you’ve achieved with the mock-heroism of “Jeffrey Epstein in His Cell,” reminded me of the passages describing Satan in “Paradise Lost,” it’s that well done. “Ghislaine Maxwell on the Beach,” is no less impressive. Our knee-jerk reaction to the infernally horrifying is so often to greet it with bombastic denunciation in order to distance ourselves from the events, when a calm contemplation is so much more effective at conveying the horror’s sheer abyssal depth. That the horror is ongoing and will likely now never be fully revealed now that the Maxwell trial records have been sealed and the media has developed a universal disinterest in them only underlines the necessity for poems like these. Congratulations on your extraordinary achievement.

    Reply
    • Shaun C. Duncan

      Thank you for the kind comments, Adam. The cheap bombast and complete lack of interest law enforcement and the media have shown in looking any deeper into the case was my main motivation for writing these. Aside from the political implications of the case itself, which are profound, the whitewashing of it by the media now seems like a test-run for all the lies and blatant propaganda we’ve had to endure since.

      Reply
  4. Clive Boddy

    It is perhaps not often that psychopathy and poetry interact but you have captured it well Shaun, in these verses. Robert Maxwell, Ghislaine’s father, was highly psychopathic and it is a personality that is, unfortunately, transmissible via both genetic and socialisation influences. See the UK TV documentary “Power Psychopaths” for more details of corporate psychopaths.

    Reply
    • Shaun C. Duncan

      Thanks Clive. Yes, the Maxwells seem to be a nasty bunch and old Robert doesn’t get brought up nearly enough in conjunction with his daughter’s later activities – we are simply told it began and ended with Epstein. I’ve just found the documentary you recommended and I’m going to watch it right now.

      Reply
  5. Cynthia Erlandson

    I agree that these are exquisite poems. And I love the overlapping rhyme scheme.

    Reply
  6. Margaret Coats

    What a pair, Shaun! Spenserian sonnets, and two of them with the same rhyme sounds. And a riveting pair of subjects, treated with painstaking care to reflect and develop the sordid mysteries of their lives and their encounters with law enforcement. These are magnificent.

    As you probably know, Spenserian sonnets are the least often used of the major kinds. Pairs are even rarer, and I am glad to be able to note these in my collection. When I get back to my research materials, I’ll let you know whose company you have joined. Edmund Spenser and William Fowler certainly, and maybe one or two more. There is also a Spenserian double sonnet (only one), but I am glad you didn’t use it for Epstein and Maxwell, as the first concerns a happily married couple. More on the form topic later.

    Reply
    • Shaun C. Duncan

      Thank you for the kind words, Margaret. I’m a big fan of the Spenserian sonnet – there’s something very satisfying about the way the repeating rhymes thread their way through the stanzas. I hadn’t originally set out to write them with the same rhyme sounds, but once I realised the second line of the Maxwell sonnet was also going to end with the word “cell” I decided to commit to it.

      I’d be very keen to hear more about Spenserian pairs. Despite the unpleasant subject matter, these were fun to write.

      Reply
  7. gary

    The wit, flow and dexterous use of language in your sonnets are admirable, Shaun. Very well written!

    Reply
  8. C.B. Anderson

    These poems, Shaun, are made of the darkest chocolate that knows no vanilla.

    Reply
  9. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Shaun, these sonnets are a triumph. The ice cool delivery of details sends a shiver. The sonnets are perfectly understated leaving an ominous air of mystery lurking between the lines. The closing couplet of each is masterly, my favorite being the Jeffery Epstein conclusion… ‘to rescue or devour’ – exactly!

    It seems history is repeating itself with controversy surrounding the death of men in Maxwell’s life… the British newspapers were full of stories of her father, Robert, in the nineties.

    Very well done, indeed!

    Reply
    • Shaun C. Duncan

      Thank you, Susan. You inspired me to go back and finally finish the Epstein sonnet after I mentioned it in a comment under one of your poems a few weeks ago. I’m glad you like the closing couplet because that was precisely what had been giving me trouble.

      Robert Maxwell doesn’t get brought up nearly enough in conjunction with this case. He not only introduced his youngest daughter to Epstein, but also bankrolled the operation according to Epstein’s former book-keeper. Maybe that’s where all that pension money went…

      Reply
  10. Talbot

    “And taut interrogators would not tell
    Who made the call or why or what it meant.

    Now footsteps echo faintly through the vent
    And soon will follow lies that none believe;
    Is it an agent or some devil sent
    To ferry him to Hell or Tel Aviv?”

    As others have commented, there are some magnificent lines in these two sonnets. Very lovely work on a, shall we say, not-so-lovely set of persons.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.