The Gentleman at His Leisure

gentleman's club

Gentlemen’s clubs have changed.
Once upon a time men went to their club
for a drink,
to conspire against the world outside.
The Friars and the Lambs
Rotarians and Kiwanis
and Moose
but no caribou, no muntjac, no deer—
all stag.
Clubs for cards and clubs for darts
and pool, and psychic investigations,
for music and science
and prestidigitation;
clubs with actual staff, men of discretion
who knew how to dun an old miser
or ease an esteemed drunk home
all with inerrant dignity and grace.
Clubs with club chairs
(that’s how  they got the name, don’t you know)
chairs of ancient leather so tough and slick
you could slide a cat across the cushions
and never catch a claw.
Where a man could sign his name for his drink
and eat fatty beef or bad mutton for tea.
Close his eyes and relax in the crackle
and rustle of men reading papers,
in the spit and fizzle of a soda syphon,
in the murmurous cloud of closed opinion
and expensive cigars
that mask
the rank desire for opium and catamites.

—Don Whittington



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