Poem – Owen Marshall

The Diogenes Club

(In memory of Bill Sewell)


Yes, you will have received an invitation, join
the others in the heavy armchairs of the Strangers’
Room. Sherlock, in an upswing mood which analysts
today would recognise, will dominate the group as he
always did the family, merciless in jibe and rejoinder.

But how you will savour, Bill, the inevitable occasion
when the indolent Mycroft rouses from apparent doze
and crowns his brother’s astute reasoning with a
final, indisputable laurel of his own deduction. And
Sherlock, so proud against the rest of the world

will quite accept this manifestation of sibling and
intellectual rank with untoward, gracious resignation
even evince satisfaction that friends are witness
to a kindred talent so seldom public. Perhaps
the ever steadfast doctor will be your fellow guest.

My own father would gladly make up the numbers, for
like you he knows all the great detective’s cases
though just for drinks, for his pockets won’t stretch
to the full Club meal. Yours too, Bill, is a keen
and searching mind, and if the conversation turns

your way, both brothers will find their attention
well rewarded. Maybe, just as the port goes round
and Sherlock flares his curving pipe, a message is
delivered: an urgent, perfumed plea from a mysterious
Countess, famed for beauty. And Sherlock will mutter

that the game’s afoot, excuse himself, leave the
Diogenes with Watson hurrying behind, bereft of
his service revolver. Mycroft and yourself, Bill,
will remain in those leather chairs, and without
seeming to have observed you with those light grey

eyes he will deduce you are a scholar, Bill, have
made studies of vin rouge, German literature and
legal language – an antipodean, a poet, a tramper
and that beneath your courteous reserve you harbour
strong attachments and disinterested loyalties.

I could have told him all of that.


Owen Marshall

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