Poetry - Issue 20 | May 2014

Newport Mansions, Observed from the Cliff Walk

by Jean L.


Newport Mansions, Observed from the Cliff Walk

I don’t want to admire this opulence:
I want to frown on these icons of greed,
rejecting this seaside extravagance.

But maybe if I didn’t count my cents
and dollars just to meet each daily need,
I’d readily admire this opulence.

The chandeliers might not cause such offense
if gas bills didn’t make my budget bleed
and new shoes weren’t an extravagance.

Within these marble walls, behind immense
arched windows, there once lived a moneyed breed
that knew no want.  Admiring opulence

like this, while some folks live in cars or tents,
just seems unseemly.  We could house and feed
so many with half this extravagance.

I walk along the sea—at no expense—
past Vanderbilt back yards.  I will concede
that yes, I do admire this opulence,
but I prefer the sea’s extravagance.


About the author

Jean L. Kreiling prefers traveling by foot, and has been fortunate to stroll along London streets, Italian cliffsides, and countless American beaches. Her poems have traveled far and wide, most recently to the pages of American Arts Quarterly, The Evansville Review, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, and several anthologies. She is the 2013 winner of the String Poet Prize and a past winner of the Able Muse Write Prize; she has been a finalist for the Frost Farm Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the Richard Wilbur Award.

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