Robert Pelgrift is an editor for a legal publisher, working in New York City.  His poems have been published in various anthologies and in The Lyric, Rotary Dial, The Galway Review, The Foxglove Journal, The Waggle, Long Island Quarterly, The Eclectic Muse, Trinacria, Now Then Manchester and Blue Unicorn.


Some encounters seem to be like a play.
A meeting starts, the players sit, then talk;
they play their assigned parts and, on cue, say
their lines. And sometimes they get up and walk
around, and then return or talk offstage.
And everything that’s done and said – they all
make an event, recorded on a page
or in the mind. There are others. Recall:
a talk, a smile, a handshake in the lift;
a restaurant: the words, the food, goodbyes.
The players briefly perform then and there;
the events are entities that may drift
away or stay, and each is, in disguise,
a play that may be remembered somewhere.

The Real Thing

‘The real thing; a gentleman, you know, or a lady.’

–Henry James, ‘The Real Thing’

This lady and gentleman wish to ‘sit,’
I’ll ‘paint them,’ and the portrait will reveal
their ‘selves;’ I’ll not seek the perfect portrait
types, but instead I will bring out the “real” –
the real people. The painting strips away
all falseness; meanness cannot be concealed;
any cruelty or evil that there may
be appears, but goodness too is revealed.

The two embody perfect gentleness,
always defer to others courteously,
and show great kindness that is genuine,
always constant in sincere thoughtfulness;
and so, their portrait will show them to be
the real thing, a lady and gentleman.