Poor Claudia published poetry, prose and conversations online and in print from 2009 to 2018.

Boyd Spahr

Three Poems

  • Agnes Hilton & Agnes Wentworth
  • Agnes Graham & Agnes Stanhope
  • Agnes Arlington & Agnes Farriday

Agnes Hilton & Agnes Wentworth

Agnes Hilton

As Julia concluded the chapter, she arose,
and slowly walked up and down the room.
“How strange!” she exclaimed; “but the
casual mention of that little cemetery
reminds me of the landscape ‘By-gone
Days; or, the Cemetery of the Woods,’
which father gave me several years ago.”
She paused before a plainly gilt frame.
Cemetery, did she say? Surely that peaceful
scene speaks not of the cypress and the yew.
Upon a slight eminence stands a pleasant
farm-house; two windows are open, through
which curtains, white as drifted snow, are
gently drawn; morning-glories and eglantine
creep over a long open porch; a rich green,
with here and there a rose and lilac bush,
sweeps down the road, from which it is
separated by a neatly painted fence. On
one side are wide-spreading fields of grain;
on the other, a noble meadow stretches far
away, while in the background rises a fine
thrifty orchard. A cemetery! Surely she must
have said it in mockery. Never was there a
scene farther removed from the gloom and
sadness of the grave. But look again; there,
on the right side of the meadow, are grand
old forest trees, sending a deepening shadow
over the waving grass and nodding clover,
and keeping sentry, as it were, over a small
plot, fenced in by a tastefully painted fence.
Flowers are clustering inside; but still, you
can plainly see the white marble pointing to
several graves, and right in the center rises
a single monument, surmounted by a cross
and anchor. Tears trembled in Julia

Agnes Wentworth

Vernon was not one of that modern school
of artists who painfully flay Nature alive by
inches; he painted her soul and body. Julia
straightway saw one magnificent oak, full
of lusty life, spring and project itself out of
the forming picture under his hand. It tossed
its wide armfuls of green about as if to catch
all the sunbeams and to defy and ward off
the clouds. But at the foot lay another at its
length, dead, stripped and stark. Next the
childlike watcher, with infinite delight and
glee, saw the green boughs beginning to
swarm with little, peeping, lurking fairies,
among them one at the top with a tiny
crown and sceptre and the features of
Rosamond, one below bearing the face of
Vernon, and between them another,
identified with herself by its blue robe and
yellow hair, but with an averted
countenance, which impressed on her with a
passing pang the conviction that Mr.
Vernon, like Mrs. Tibbets, found less to
commend in the front than in the back of
her head. And next, after a few
experimental splashes on the corner of
Julia’s board, Walter was seen astride of a
wind-tossed twig, in the character of Puck;
while old nurse rode around him in the air
on a broom-stick. So much done, Vernon
began to set in a dim procession similar
figures upon the fallen oak, dressed not in
flowery but in ashen hues. Their attitudes
were those of mourning; and in their hands
they trailed sprays of cypress and love-lies-
bleeding. And still Julia

Agnes Graham & Agnes Stanhope

Agnes Graham

Julia rose, and fetching some plates and
vases, began arranging the fruits and flowers
out of the basket. Mr. Murray watched her,
while he continued to converse with Mrs.
Elmsworth: the beautiful face, so saddened,
so changed in expression; the languid fall
of the eyelids; the drooping curves of her
mouth, showing how the will had wrestled
with the heart. There was all about her, a
clinging expression of wearing sorrow, most
touching to behold, and yet, when the long
black lashes were lifted and the dark eyes
raised fully and calmly to his, in answer to
some questions, he could not but remark the
sweet chastened glance, the quiet, serene
beaming—so different from the brilliant,
flashing rays which used to gleam there.
Julia’s soul was equipoised and firm. Mr.
Murray could not help thinking she was
lovelier than ever, and he felt all the former
love for her, which he had vainly tried to
chain beneath the icy crust of duty and
necessity surging in his heart, as he looked
upon her. He asked Mrs. Elmsworth if they
had seen anything of Paris; and he was
surprised to hear that she had never been
out of their rooms since they reached Paris.

Agnes Stanhope

They spoke of the past, of the brilliant city
in which their lot of to-day was cast, they
went on to the more thrilling legandry of
Rome, the history of that beautiful land
lying now in its fetters and darkness, and
Julia’s pale cheek glowed, and she forgot
for the first time the dark reality which kept
sentinel at every hour of her life, the
glittering sword suspended by a hair over
her head. So had she listened to Lawrence,
entranced despite of her secret repulsion, as
the rich treasures of his cultivated mind
flowed forth, but here there was no
repulsion, none of that secret shrinking of
the pure soul which, while it looks with
dazzled eyes upon the whited sepulchre,
turns from the corruption and deadness
within. Purity and truth beamed from every
glance of De Lacy’s clear eyes, and
pervaded every word. There was that
exquisite charm, too, the patience and
thought born only in a soul which has
passed through the refining ordeal of
suffering, and which from its bravely won
height can look down through a clearer
sweep of light on the follies and errors of its
brother kind. For almost the first time since
her alienation from Bertha, Julia

Agnes Arlington & Agnes Farriday

Agnes Arlington

I then wrote to my father, acknowledged my
faults, and begged him to forgive me, and
allow me to return home. At the expiration
of three weeks I received a letter from him;
he wrote that neither he nor my mother
could ever forgive me, that they never
wished to hear from me again, and that as I
had made my bed, so must I lie in it. When I
read that cold heartless letter I felt truly
desolate, and in a single hour my feelings
regarding the world and society changed.
My heart that before was soft and tender,
became calloused, calcined, indurated. From
that hour I hated and despised every biped,
masculine or feminine, for I felt there was
neither love, truth, or charity in the world
only in name. Night came, but William did
not come home as usual. I sat up till a late
hour waiting his return; but twelve, one,
two, and three was struck by the brazen
tongue that tells of flying time, and still he
was absent. Sick at heart I retired to rest, and
after tossing about on my pillow for two
weary hours, I fell into a disturbed slumber
and dreamed a strange and horrid dream.
Methought I wandered through the low
browed and dismal caverns where repose in
silence the relics of my ancestors; my eyes
dwelt with awe upon their marble tombs,
with disgust upon mortality's sounding
emblems. Suddenly a male form glided
stealthily along the dingy vault. It was
Albert. He smiled benignantly upon me and
beckoned to approach. I did so, and my arms
were already unclosed to clasp him, when
suddenly his form changed, his face grew
pale, and a stream of blood gushed from his
bosom. Heavens! what a horrid spectacle!
“We meet again once more,” murmured his
hollow voice. “Now rush to my arms, but
first see what thy parents by their cruelty
have made of me. Embrace me my bride, we
must never part again.” While speaking, the
flesh fell from his bones, his eyes burst from
their sockets, and a skeleton loathsome and
meagre clasped me in his mouldering arms.
His infected breath was mingled with mine,
while his rotten fingers pressed my hands,
and my face was covered with his kisses.
Oh! how I trembled with disgust! And then
blue dismal flames gleamed along the walls
with a ghastly, horrible, and satanic-like
effect, the tombs were rent asunder, and
fierce devils rushed around me, and
furiously they ground their teeth and wagged
their demon tails, whilst they shrieked in
chorus, “Welcome thou unchaste mortal!
thou lost forever!” Horror burst the bands of
sleep; distracted I flew hither, but my
feelings, words are too weak, too powerless
to express them. Surely this was no idle
dream; it was a celestial warning, ’t was my
better angel that whispered, “Julia

Agnes Farriday

time since I had the pleasure of a friendly
word from you; but I am sure you have not
forgotten me, and this will be proof positive
that I have not forgotten you. Oh, how could
I forget so pure and sweet a being. Ah, my
dear friend, how little the world knows of
the beauty of your character; but I know of
it, and so does God! who has a reward laid
up for you in Heaven. I am a successful
teacher now, and all my scholars love me
very much; and what you will be surprised
to hear, I am going to be married to a
talented lawyer, with whom I am sure I
shall be most happy; and for this happiness I
am indebted to you, dearest and best of
friends. May God bless and prosper you. I
am glad that your plague, Mr. Rolston, is
dead. Mr. Andrews and yourself may now
live in peace. I have been successful in
reforming several girls, who had abandoned
themselves, even as I abandoned myself, to
crime, for the means of a support; they are
now happy in well doing, and love me for
my kindness to them, even as I love you,
dearest Julia, for your goodness to me.
When I think how much wretchedness there
is in Boston, in consequence of prostitution;
of the generous-hearted and well-informed
women who are hurried into it, from
necessity, as they deem, my heart aches and
my blood freezes, that it should be so; and I
am almost resolved to devote myself to their
service. This I would do willingly, if there
were suitable homes for them in, or near
Boston, to which I could influence them to
go, and where they could be rendered
comfortable, and be provided with the
means of honest support. I am sure such
institutions would be most effectual in
redeeming many a poor, forsaken, and
suffering soul from a life of unspeakable
misery. It is a very easy matter to say to the
courtezan, come out of your evil habits; but
they who indeed desire their reformation,
will place the means fully in their power.
Give them homes! homes! where they will
find a comfortable bed, wholesome food,
and friendly counsel. Certainly this is not
expecting too much of our humanity. I am
sure, if persons who claim to be Christians,
were in reality such, they would do all
in their power to aid the women who are
leading a life of prostitution, to purge
themselves of their sins, and return to a
godly existence. How many, ah, how many,
long for some friendly hand to grasp, that by
it they may be drawn out of the pollution,
into which a hard struggle with the world
has forced them. I know, my dear, dear Julia

Boyd Spahr

Boyd Spahr lives in Los Angeles. He's the author of the chapbook The Julias (Horse Less Press), and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Western Humanities Review, Mississippi Review, Octopus, POOL, Sleepingfish, DIAGRAM and elsewhere.