Empires of the Mind

Empires of the Mind
Donald C. Welch III

When Winston Churchill wanted to pass a bill,
he’d smoke a cigar with a wire through the middle
while the opponents to his motion spoke.

I imagine his fingers shaking with insomnia,
tiny flakes of tobacco leisurely burning
on the head of ash inexplicably holding together.

The room’s heat stifling despite coal rations,
the House of Lords loosening their collars
wanting something to do with their hands.

The cigar’s scent filling the nostrils, seeping into
the lips and pores, of every member of Parliament,
the room as smoky as London after an air raid.

Everyone, even the speaker, attentively watching,
waiting for all of the ash to fall. But secretly
hoping that, like the Dome of St. Paul’s, it never will.

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