Sepia Rust, By Brian37 (AKA Brian James Rational Poet on FB/META and @Brianrrs37 on Twitter)

Faded images of days past
Flash powder, black cloth
Draped over, bent over
The photographer

And the subject suspended
In repose, not dead at the time
Quite live like a ghost
In Victorian chair, in military cloths

Horse and buggy
Antique rails
In the harbor
The steam ship sails

Handlebar mustache
Top hat, monocle
Bonnie and Clyde
Penny farthing bicycle

In Antietam
The body’s lay
Tom Sharky
Wyatt Earp’s say

Eastern State
Capone housed in
Leon Czolgoaz

Did McKinley in
Harry Houdini
Escaped at whim
Maye West tempted men

Kodaks imprint
Way back then
Sepia rusts
And always wins.

This poem is an mish mosh of history in photography for the faded photographs of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The words “in repose” do not literally mean lying in death for review, but in that old photographs capture the dead, and give them life in the photograph.

An aside, I did not know that famed Wyatt Earp once refereed a boxing match between Bob Fitzsimmons and Tom Sharky in 1896. I actually stumbled on this fact watching an old episode of the 80s detective show Simon & Simon where the character Rick called into a radio show to answer a sports related question to win money. I paused the dvd to see if “Tom Sharky” was a real person or simply made up in the script, turned out he was a real boxer, when I googled the name. But what I did not know was that Wyatt Earp officiate the match.

“C-5527” I have to admit based on the photo may actually be “C-3327” I cant understand the font of the numbers. Anyway, it is one of those Police/Prison processing photos where they make the incarcerated wear a plaque with the number of their processing. That was of Al Capone in Philadelphia when he was arrested for illegally carrying a revolver. Processed at Eastern State Penitentiary.

“Leon Czolgoaz” was the assassin of President William McKinley.

“Penny farthing” is a type of bicycle with that really giant front wheel and a tiny rear wheel.


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