Dead man walking as he goes to dine –
The handing over broached and squared away –
He settles to the gossip and the wine,
The casual banter and the heart at play.
The host, benignant, gazes from his chair,
The pointer smartens as the dishes rise:
Part of the company is debonair,
Part of it weathered-out beyond surprise.
And to the lot, a creature of excess,
Her love unstinting as the lavished nard
That perfumes all the house to thank and bless
The man who’d keep his promise, dying hard,
She comes, intrusive, wiser than almost all.
The traitor’s turning white as any pall.
– Peter Steele, The Gossip & The Wine