The Prince of California        

Do you remember ‘Count Paul Dunstan’ -

Those calling-cards you had me print?

Your mother beautifully pretended

And asked me when my castles went.

But were the girls persuaded once

They saw us laughing at the dance?

The make-believe has never ended,

For see what that first printing meant.


Some are charming, some are not;

You, as I recall it, were.

The moment when the bus stopped at

That unknown school, and you stood there,

With crinkly eyes and dark-blond hair,

And asked my name and seized my suitcase

And took me off to be your friend –

Why did that moment have to end?


But has it ended? Now the poem

Brings it to light again, and I

Enjoy the steady chocolate feast

You forced on me that evening, and,

When I tried reading in my room,

The games of cards you made me play,

And all the friendliness, which seemed

So strange after the cold East Coast.


You left that school, and so did I,

And we have never met again.

Or have we? It was ten years later,

And I was in the Army then.

On pass in Passo Robles, my

Turn to have my hair cut came, and

There in the mirror you walked by.

I almost called, but wasn’t sure.

And afterwards? You hadn’t waited.


I doubt if we shall have another

Chance of meeting here on earth.

But elsewhere - may we see each other.

There may you get a greeting worth

The one you gave me years ago,

At school, that California evening.

You, ‘Prince Alexis’, made me know

The welcome to expect in Heaven.