Matt Bialer ~ A Poem



A middle aged slender woman
And her husband
Enter Beth Israel Medical Center
First Avenue and 11th Street

1100 bed hospital

Saint Laurent Marmot noir fur coat
Long sleeved sequined mini-dress

Husband in a Tom Ford suit
Gray stripes
Jacquard stitching

Approach front desk

I am here
To see a patient

– Can I have the patient’s name?

Francine Powell

– Hmm, are you sure
-That is the name?

Of course I am sure
She is my relative

She is my great aunt Fannie

– There is no one registered
– By that name

– Perhaps you have
-The wrong hospital

This is the right hospital
In fact until today

I did not know
That she’s been here for twenty years

Twenty years!

Is she sick?
What’s wrong with her?

An administrator
Approaches the desk

– Why do you
– Want to see Ms. Powell?

She’s my Aunt Fannie
And none of her family

Knows that she lives here

– She does not allow visitors

It’s a hospital
Patients have visitors

– Madam does not allow visitors

Let’s go home Grace
We tried

I’m not going anywhere Daniel
Until I see my aunt

Turns to the Administrator

We need to know
That she’s ok

She’s our blood
She’s our blood

Area on third floor
Set aside

For our special patient

Concierge service
Flat screen TV

In room sleep sofas
For family members

Grace and Daniel
Knock on the door

Private night nurse Maddie
Greets them

Jamaican lady

– Madam is sleeping

– Who are you?

How is she?
How is my aunt?

– You her niece?
– What’s your name?

I’m her great niece Grace

Her big half sister
Marilyn Powell Jeffries

Was my great grandmother

Aunt Fannie is the last of them

How is she?

– She’s good
– Able to walk around the room
– With assistance

– Has an appetite

Grace thinks of an excuse
To get in the room

Can I go in
And give her a blessing?

– No, no
– Madam does not like to be disturbed

– You need to take this up with Mita
– She’s her main nurse

– Come back tomorrow

Just a quick blessing
For my dear Aunt Fannie

I won’t bother her

Sleeping peacefully
Silver haired little woman

Room filled with dolls
French antique porcelain dolls
And Smurfs

– Madam has big doll collection
– Biggest I’ve ever seen

But she has no children
Or grandchildren

– Oh no, they’re Madam’s dolls

– Come back tomorrow
– During the day

– Mita will be here

Next day
Grace and Daniel

Arrive again

Pint sized Indian nurse

Opens the door

Tells them
Madam Powell was very upset

Was very upset

– You just turned up
– Uninvited

– And barged into her room

We need to know
That she’s ok

She’s our blood

I’m her niece

– Madam doesn’t care
– Who you are

– You just barged in on Madam
– How dare you?

Grace tries to peek
Into the room

How dare me?
I’m her niece

Can hear Francine Powell
Her great aunt

The Copper Heiress

In the background
Calling out for Mita

Mita? What’s going on?


High pitched voice

– Leave here immediately!
– Immediately!

– Or I will call security

No, no relatives!
I don’t want to see them

This is a violation!

Il s’agit d’une violation!


No, No, NO!

Call Murray now!

Call Murray!


Smelting sulfide ores
Was almost the sole means

Of producing copper metal
From mined ores

Primary copper production

Copper initially recovered
From the sulfide ores

By directly smelting
The ores in a furnace

The ores in a furnace


She allows
No one to see her

No one

She will only
Talk on the phone

High pitched, refined French

The Copper Heiress

102 years old

You may not call her

You cannot have her number

She only will call you

If she desires to

She turns her head
On the pillow

If she desires to

A poor young cricket small and shy
Passing retir’d his summer hours
Beheld one day a butterfly
Flitting among the flowers
Of ev’ry color, ev’ry hue

If she desires to

Looks at
The antique porcelain doll

Sitting on the chair
By her bed

Poupee de Mode

Lady Fashion

She’s special

Paid $122,000
At auction

For that one


For that one

Smiles at

Bisque socket head

Blue glass paperweight eyes

Open mouth

Four gleaming porcelain teeth

Brunette mohair wig



Bonne nuit ma
Chere douce Chantal



There is no vegetation
In Butte, Montana

No trees
Or flowers

Except in the 34 room
Grand Victorian

On a corner
Near the top of the hill
On West Granite Street

The Copper King Mansion

Through colorful stained glass windows

Exquisitely carved
Wooden staircase

Featuring flowers and birds
From all over the world

Ceiling with painted frescos
Parquet floors

62 foot ballroom

But there is no vegetation
In Butte, Montana

Because of the mines
Owned by the Copper King himself

Sherman Grayson Powell

The Copper King

A Great American Story

Son of a farmer

Just the son of a farmer

Little man
With a big head
Of bushy red hair

Long red beard

From Connellsville, Pennsylvania
2nd born of 11 children

3 younger siblings die

Moves with his family
To Iowa

Helps dad on the farm

But convinces him
Once he shows academic promise

To let him study law

Iowa Wesleyan College

I’m destined for more
Than farming

I know I am

More than just working
With my hands

A Great American Story

Makes his way
To Montana

Finds his future
In the gold rush

Dapper as a fashion plate
From his feet

To his glossy hat
And frock coat

Manicured fingers

Not a hair awry
On the bushy red thatch
That covers his head

I’m destined for more
Than farming

By 1869
Age of 30

A banker

And a well to do man

Who seeks his bride

Takes a trip
With his mother

To childhood home

Courts former classmate
Beatrice Harding


Train and stagecoach

Stops in Chicago,
St. Louis

Settles in small town
Deer Lodge, Montana

Founds a bank


Generous hospitality
Sunny sociability

Softens husband’s image

Ventures from Deer Lodge
To Butte

To examine
Shallow quartz mines

Reputed to be worthless

Reputed to be worthless

But Powell has his doubts

He has a feeling

Astute gamble

Buys the claims
To 4 Butte mines

More than just working
With my hands

Not a hair awry

There is no vegetation
In Butte, Montana

But before investing
In expensive equipment

Decides he needs
To learn more

About geology
And science of mining

Leave of absence
From the bank

Moves to New York

Columbia College
Mining School

Show off their wealth


Nouveau rich

Strolling up Fifth Avenue

Newly opened
Metropolitan Museum
At Fifth Avenue and 53rd St.

One day
They will want my possessions

In their collection

You wait and see

New Grand Opera House

Knoedler Gallery exhibition

Purchases many paintings
In the years to come

Scours the world
For art

One day
They will want my possessions

During his studies
At Columbia

He and his professors
Examine mineral samples

From the newly purchased
Butte mines

It can’t be true

Tapped into
Major copper veins

Major copper veins

So I was right

I was right

The Copper King

A Great American Story

Son of a farmer

There is no vegetation
In Butte, Montana

Fumes from the mining operations
Have killed all of the vegetation

In the city

Only 4 trees left

Roasting ores
Give off fumes of sulphur

The smoke
Color of watered milk

Built the first smelter
In Butte
To process ore

Plumes of chemicals
Into the sky

Roasting ore
In open pits

In the words
Of Sherman Grayson Powell himself

I must say
That the ladies
Are fond of the Smoky City

As it is
Sometimes called

Because there is
Just enough arsenic

To give them
A good complexion

And our local physicians
Believe that the smoke

Is disinfectant that destroys
The germs of disease

Not a hair awry

Has three children

Marilyn Powell
Sherman Grayson Powell, Jr.
Anders Powell

Embarks on European sojourn

Moves Beatrice
And the children to Paris

Henry James
John Singer Sargent
Mary Cassett

Buys up art
And antiquities

They will want my possessions

Beatrice and the children
Fluent in French and German

3 years in Paris
2 in Dresden

Avidly collecting art
Renoir, Degas

Returns to America

Beatrice and the children
In a mansion

Garden City, Long Island

While he
Returns to Butte

Supervises construction
Of his mansion

Copper King Mansion

Exquisitely carved
Wooden staircase

Featuring flowers and birds
From all over the world

Ceilings with painted frescos

Dapper as a fashion plate
From his feet

To his glossy hat
And frock coat

I’m destined for more
Than farming

A Great American Story

When Montana
Becomes a state

Makes a bid
To become first senator

He and his rival
Accuse each other

Of bribing
State legislators

In return
For votes

Both mining men
Both own local papers

A battle about
Location of state capital

Helena or Anaconda

Powell victorious
But refuse to seat him

Because of the bribes

I never bought a man
That wasn’t for sale

His youngest son

Graduates from Yale

Notorious for spending
More money in one year at Yale

Than any other man
Who has ever attended

Rich man’s spoiled son


Later on
Builds a race track
In California

Buys champion stallion

Races it under
Copper colored silk

Father once gave
A shoe shine man

A quarter tip

Complains that
It was nothing

Compared to the $5 tip
Left by his son

Well, that’s all right

You see Anders has a rich daddy

But I haven’t

A Great American Story

Builds more mansions
Santa Barbara

And the largest
Mansion in Manhattan

Amasses more art

Eventually becomes Senator

Wife Beatrice
Visits Montana

But spends more time
In Garden City, Long Island

And luxurious Navarro apartments
West 58th Street

Goes to Chicago

Columbian Exhibition

400th anniversary
Of Christopher Columbus’
Arrival in America

200 temporary pavilions
The world’s first Ferris wheel

Gardens designed
By Frederick Law Olmstead

Comes home feverish

Typhoid fever

He and Anders
Get on a train to New York

But delayed in Chicago

Too late

Too late

Buries his wife
Woodlawn Cemetery

Hires architecture firm
Lord, Hewlitt and Hull

$150,000 family sized
White mausoleum

Fluted ionic columns
Stained glass windows

Beaux Arts bronze door
Designed by student of Rodin

A woman
With long flowing hair

Painted silver

Windswept gown

Head tilted as she
Gazes out at the world

A standing weekly order
Of fresh cut flowers

No matter the season

Fresh cut flowers

A Great American Story

In a chauffeur driven
Newly minted

Rolls Royce
Silver Ghost

Painted aluminum

Silver plated fittings

Open top seven passenger Roi des Belges
By coach builder Barker

Driven through
The smoke of Butte

Manicured fingers

Not a hair awry

The Silver Ghost

Named so
Because of its ghost –like quietness


Through the plumes of smoke

Of Butte


Raises his hand
As if to wave

But it is a fist

He has raised his fist


Smelting sulfide ores

Was almost the sole means

Of producing copper metal

From mined ores

Copper initially recovered
From the sulfide ores

By directly smelting
The ore in a furnace

Or pit

Smelters were located
Near the mines

To minimize the cost
Of transport



She allows
No one to see her

No one

She will only
Talk on the phone

High pitched
Refined French

The Copper Heiress

You may not call her

You cannot have her number

When Madam
Lived alone

In 42 room
907 Fifth Avenue apartment

For decades

Would only talk
To her decorators

And house help

From behind a closed door

Or from a note
She left for them

For decades

She allows
No one to see her

Her doll collection

On sofas
Beds, chairs

And piled in boxes

Fascinated by cartoons

The Flinstones
The Jetsons
Rocky and Bullwinkle

Watches for hours

Tries to teach herself
Cartoon animation

Tape cartoons
And then watch slowly

Quick lapse photography

Hundreds of thousands
Of single shot frames
In her apartment

Madam likes
To take care of people

In trouble

People she sees on TV
Or reads about in the paper

Directs her lawyer
To make anonymous charitable gifts

Same sardine lunch
Every day

Purchases 1731 “Kreutzer” violin
Made by the renowned Italian artisan
Antonio Stradivari

Coutre clothes
Jean Patou in Paris

Gold bracelets
With diamonds and rubies

A Van Cleef platinum ring
With multiple emeralds

Doll sized clothing

Maison Christian Dior

She allows
No one to see her

Walks among her Gilded Age furniture
Rare books

Renoir’s “Young Women Playing Badminton”
Monet’s “Water Lillies”

Takes up photography

Photos from her window

Street scenes below

Central Park

Voracious reader

Constantly orders
New books

Agatha Christie
French art
How- to Animation

Doll collection
Keeps increasing

Theriault’s auction catalogues

Dolls lining the chairs

Bisque socket head

Blue glass paperweight
Inset eyes

Painted features

Open mouth

Rows of
Tiny porcelain teeth

French composition

Fully jointed

She will only
Talk on the phone

You cannot have her number

She will only call you

If she desires to

Her niece Agnes Powell Albert

Of long dead half brother
Sherman Grayson Powell, Jr.

Rare book collector
Founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Invites her
To lunch

At the Plaza Hotel

Politely declines
As usual

We’re going to
Stand in front of your building

72nd and Fifth

And wave to you

Wave to you

Becomes yearly ritual


Trying to
Catch a glimpse

Of the face

Hidden behind the glass


The doorman
Watches them

Crosses the street
To ask them

– Who are you waving to?

Our Aunt Fannie
Who lives in the building

Francine Powell

The doorman chuckles

– The Copper Heiress

– I have worked in this building
– For over a dozen years

– I have never seen her before

– Never seen her before

The Copper Heiress

If she desires to

She sees them
Down on the street

But they
Do not see her

Clutches the curtains

To the portraits

That her painting teacher

The renowned Jean Paul Matteau

Rendered of her father

Sherman Grayson Powell

The Copper King himself

And Madam’s mother Sarah

Her mother’s beloved sister Amelia

Madam herself

And several special portraits
Commissioned by Father of Chantal

Based on photographs

One day beheld a butterfly
Flitting among the flowers
Ev’ry color, ev’ry hue

The gaudy insect well might boast
From flower to flower it gaily flew
Alighting where it pleased him most

Examines portrait of Chantal

White lace dress

Almost 17

Blue glass sleep eyes

Mischievous smile

Mouth open

Gleaming porcelain teeth

Oh Chantal
Tu es un papillon


Murray Dworkin
In his usual booth

At Ben’s Kosher Deli
38th Street and 7th Avenue

2 blocks from his office

Usual egg salad platter

His phone beeps

It’s his wife Sylvia


There was another bus attack!


The town in Israel
Where his daughter Tamara
And granddaughter Adina live

Constant shooting attacks
On outlying section of town

Buses and cars
Traveling to and from
Main highway to Jerusalem

– I assume they’re ok?

This time yes
But they’re getting closer!

They need security Murray!

They need security!

– I’ll see if I can raise money at the Temple

Temple? 1.85 million dollars from the Temple?
Are you joking?

No Murray

You know what to do

– I can’t do that Sylvia

You know what to do

She hangs up

Phone beeps again

His secretary Natalie

Mrs. Powell called
She’s all up in arms

Relative tried to see her

Mita called too

They’re up in arms

Meets Grace Powell Jameson
And her husband Daniel Jameson

In his office

Old gray filing cabinets
Worn leather chairs
Faded carpet

Paunch belly

Orthodox Jew

President of his temple
In Brooklyn

You know that she
Is my Great Aunt Fannie

– I know who you are Mrs. Jameson

Grabs the arm
Of her chair

How come no one knew
That she’s been living
At that hospital

For twenty years?

– She didn’t want anyone to know
– Those are her wishes

– She craves privacy Mrs. Jameson
– And you upset her
– By just showing up

We’re concerned about her
We’re family

She’s the last of the siblings

Is she sick?

– She was originally
– Admitted with skin cancer

– But then she chose to stay

– Let’s just say she used some persuasion
– To let her stay there

She owns 3 gigantic mansions
Filled with priceless art

– She likes the hospital Mrs. Jameson
– She finds it comforting

– And the mansions are all staffed
– And maintained
– Even though she has not
– Stepped foot in one for decades

– Tell me Mrs. Jameson
– When was the last time you saw her?

– When was the last time you saw her Mrs. Jameson?

When I was a little girl

I saw her with her mother
At the opera

When was the last time
You saw her Mr. Dworkin?

– I’ve never met her

I assume she has a will



Is Daddy
sleeping with her?

Sherman Grayson Powell, Jr.
To Marilyn Powell

About their father
The Copper King

Is he sleeping with her?

I hope not

She’s beneath him

He mentors her

Sarah Bernadin

Local Butte girl

Family French Canadian

At least the father is not a miner

She’s a Catholic

Daddy pays
For her education

Her harp lessons

And for her parents’ house

And her sister’s education

She’s too young

I don’t like it

She wants his money

Our money

Our money

I could be her mother

Anders chimes in

Father is lonely

And he is entitled
To a little happiness

So he buys his happiness
I can respect that

It figures
You’d say that Anders

It figures

You and your race horses

It’s all a day
At the races for you

I could be her mother

At least I’m
Not a divorced woman

Is he sleeping with her?

Sarah Bernadin Powell

39 years younger
Than her husband

Family posed photograph

Sarah seated in front

Floor length dark skirt
Matching jacket
Lacy white blouse

Long hair
Carefully pinned up
Enormous hat
With a feather

On her lap
She is holding a baby

Little Francine

Light blond hair

White lace
Christening dress
Trails several feet to the floor

Her big sister

Sitting on a chair


Like she’s about
To let you in on a secret

Brunette hair
Flowing to her shoulders

Short white dress

White knee socks
Straw hat

And the Senator

The Copper King himself

Full head of hair
Bushy mustache and beard

Looking dapper

Summer white suit
White shirt and tie

Proud expression
On his face

Of his new family

Arm around

Who is Daddy’s girl

As Francine
Becomes Mommy’s girl

Daddy’s girl


Tells darling little sister

Stories at night

Would not finish them

Tease Fannie

The Arabian Knights

The Jungle Book

I want to know what happens Chantal


– Tomorrow Fannie
– Tomorrow

The new Queen Mary’s Doll’s House

For each of them

Collection of
Miniature items
That actually work

Running water
Through tiny pipes

A gift to Queen Mary
From the people

Made to scale
One inch to one foot

Replicas of items
In Windsor Castle

Carpets, curtains
And furnishings

All copies of the real thing

Toilets really flush
Miniature toilet paper

– Even dolls have to go Fannie!

– Look, it’s Daddy’s car!

Miniature Rolls Royce
Silver Ghost

– It looks lonely without Daddy

Party for Chantal
In the Butte mansion

Performances by trained dogs

Dancing in the ballroom

Back in Manhattan
The Copper King

Supervises construction
Of his gigantic mansion

It will be the largest residence
In the city of New York

I’ll outdo
Carnegie and Vanderbilt

An enchanted nursery
For his daughters

Hand painted tiles

Illustrating fairy tales
And nursery rhymes

Swimming pool
Dressing rooms
Fitted with carrara glass

Turkish bath
Wine cellars

Safe deposit vaults

80 tons coal storage room

Elevator large enough
For 20 people

White marble staircase
Balustrades of gold and bronze

Four large art galleries

Egyptian antiquities

Commissions sculptors
Such as Augustus Saint Gaudens
Paul Bartlett

Bronze decorations
For the house

Third floor
Imports a library
From Normandy Chateau

Carved woodwork
Dating back from 1523

Sarah’s living quarters
Overlook Central Park

Paneled in
White Satinwood

Flower carvings

Of bird’s eye maple

The Senator
Takes the subway in Manhattan

Causes a stir one day

Loses a penny
In chewing gum machine
On 14th Street

Is outraged

I want my penny back!

Speaks to the supervisor

Always in law suits
With his competitors

Must win
At all costs

At all costs

I’m destined for more
Than farming

Sarah and the girls
Live in Paris

Until 927 Fifth Avenue is complete

Copper King Castle

As the press calls it
Avenue Victor Hugo
16th Arrondisesment

Close to the Bois de Boulogne

Speak French
As primary language

Tutored in English

Music room –
Sarah plays harp
Fannie the violin
And Chantal the piano

Fannie with her dolls
Lined up outside

The house in Butte

Queen Mary’s Doll’s House

Chantal chasing Fannie

– You’re so pretty Fannie

– All of the men
– Are going to desire you

– All of the men

– They will love you for your mind
– As well as your heart and beauty

– All of the men

– How can they resist those blue eyes?

– You will marry a prince

You’re the beautiful one Chantal

And I’m not outgoing like you

I wish I were

I wish I were

Move in to Fifth Avenue

Copper King Castle

Shrieks of childish laughter

Be careful of the art!

Be careful of the art!

Forbidden to run around
In the gallery
The Salon Diore

The Copper King

Craves to be recognized
As sophisticated art collector

Scours Europe
For art

The auction houses

Wants the greatest personal collection
In the world

The greatest in the world

Fellow robber barons


Told he should
Seek art consultants

I don’t need consulting
I consult my own eye

They will want my possessions

Tells reporters
It is his civic duty

To allow the people
To see his masterpieces

Holds big party
In the house

Hundreds of invitations

To all of the best people
In New York

But they don’t show up

Spurn advances
Of aspiring Senator

Just an upstart
From the midwest

A bumpkin

Fool doesn’t realize he owns some forgeries

They will want my possessions

Mark my words

I won’t forget this

I won’t forget this

Violin lessons
With Andre Tousset

Celebrated Parisian violinist

Performs with
New York Chamber Music Society

Portrait of Chantal

By renowned French portrait painter
Pierre Turtous

$20,000 a portrait

Paints King Gustav of Sweden
Calvin Coolidge

Mischievous smile

Holding a large basket of tulips

Dancing school costume

Brown and white skirt

Dark hair meticulously coifed

Legs crossed


Short blond hair

Blue eyes

Short sleeve
Frilly white dress

Holding a doll

The Copper King’s
Oldest daughter

Marilyn Powell Jeffries
Twice divorced

Flamboyant parties

Her love life
In the newspapers

Daddy married beneath him

Beneath him

Built that ugly castle for them

What about us?

What about us?

Spendthrift Anders
Splurges on his racehorses

Battles against creditors

Sherman Jr.
Collects rare books

Works of Oscar Wilde
Classical music concerts

Seen in the company
Of young men

Junior’s Peculiar Preference

His big sister

Keep it zipped Shermie

Keep it zipped

Don’t embarrass the family

Sarah and the girls

In Santa Barbara

The new mansion
Atop a cliff
Overlooking the Pacific

Father names it
After an ancient Greek city

And Hawaii

Chantal’s diary:

A walk with Daddy Dear
On Fifth Avenue

We are preparing
A surprise for Mother’s Birthday

Fannie is learning
A piece on the violin

Summers in Maine

Fannie writes
To her father

Yesterday night
Was the most beautiful sunset

The mountains were blue
And the sky

Was a gorgeous pink and purple

The water looked like silver Daddy

Like silver

Soon Chantal will come back

And how glad I will be

To see my dear sister again

I will be glad to see you again

Dear Little Father

And then Chantal
Writes to her father

My dear Father

I am very happy
That you will be here
Next week

I know how to dance
Quite well

And so does Fannie

I am very glad
That you are going to be here
For my birthday

But what Chantal
Does not say

Is that she is not
Feeling well

Local doctor
Spinal Meningitis

Spends day and night
With her

To the Copper King

Chantal is extremely ill

He races to Butte station

Next train
East coast

From Sarah

Received your very dear message

Our little angel is at rest

Just Monday evening
She was singing all of her scout songs

But she’s been taken from us

Our little angel has been
Taken from us



Private nurse Mita
And Madam’s long time personal assistant

Take the Madam
For a walk through Central Park

Well, sort of

It all started
When Peter

Would drop by the hospital
To bring items Madam requested

Mystery novels
Architecture books

Antique dolls
From her collection

Visits with her
At least half an hour

Entertains her

News from
The outside world

Tape cartoons
For her to photograph

Watches her give
Rudolph instructions
Over the phone

Builds and repairs
Madam’s dollhouses

Does not want
To see him in person

Detailed instructions
Over the phone

The measurements
In the dollhouse

Have to
Just so

Or people
Are going to bump their heads

I can’t have them
Bumping their heads

Doctors concerned
She’s not leaving her bed

Well, she’s 102 years old

She needs to move around

But she doesn’t have the energy

Below 100 pounds

Warm milk
Before bed

Silver haired heiress

Each night
Recites the Lord’s Prayer

Out loud

French, Spanish, English

Speaks in French
To one of her dolls

Oh Papillon

She needs to move around

Get her out of bed

Madam refuses to
Madam refuses to

Used to getting her way

Only do what
She wants to do

When she wants to

Madam needs to stand up
Move around

To keep heart active
Prevent muscle atrophy

Must make it happen

Up to Mita

Very persuasive with Madam

Has an idea

Turns to Madam’s
Long time personal assistant

Mans his post
At her 2 apartments
907 Fifth Avenue

Madam always
Smiles when 54 year old
Peter shows up at 4 pm

Well groomed
Suit and tie

Speak in French
To each other

His father and his brothers
Originally decorated
Her apartment

Brings his wife
And two daughters
To visit

Madam loves the little ones

Gives them Barbie dolls
And candy

Let’s them look
At the antique dolls

In her room

She adores Peter

Mita has an idea
For a new ritual
With Peter

A walk through
Madam’s beloved Central Park

Asks him to come by
Closer to noon

Madam has more energy

Mita announces

Peter is here
It’s time for a walk
Through Central Park

The park is two miles away

No limo waiting for them

Peter helps her
Out of bed

Holds her frail arm

And they walk
Around the room

3 laps

A walk in the park

Now we’re going to 59th Street

Oh, my father
Used to love 59th Street

My dear sister Chantal
And I would
Gaze into the windows

Of A La Vielle Russie

The had Russian Imperial treasures

Miniature gold and enamel
Faberge sedan chairs

Just had to own

He would let us
Sit in them

And play
With our Flossy Flirt dolls

Did you know that Bergdorf
Was built on the site

Of a palazzo
Owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt’s 2nd widow?

We’re going to
See the Obelisk

Walks slowly

Standard issued cotton
Hospital gown

Topped with
A blue cashmere cardigan

Complement her eyes

When Daddy was in town
The four of us

Would walk to the Obelisk

We loved marveling at it

Each day
A new walk

Through Central Park

Different landmarks

Maybe we should take
The Bridle Path?

We’re going up
To the Met

I hope you’re not tired
From the walk Madam

Circles the room


Mon Papillon
Adorait Central Park

Murray Dworkin
Sitting in his booth
At Ben’s Deli

His office
Out of the office

Picking at his egg salad platter

Talking to daughter Tamara
On his cell phone

– Is everything ok? How is Adina?

We’re fine Daddy
But we’re scared

We need to beef up the security
We don’t have the money

– I know that dear
– I am going to raise the money for the town
– I will


– A fundraiser at the Temple

We’re okay Daddy
But we’re scared

We’re scared

After he hangs up

Phone beeps again

His secretary Natalie

A man named Thomas Blake Powell

Said he is the great grandson of

– Yes, I know. Anders Powell,
– Mrs. Powell’s half-brother

Well, he would like to visit
His beloved Aunt Fannie

And on behalf of all of Anders’
Great grandchildren

He would like to
Talk to you

About her will

Phone beeps yet again


It’s William Orenstein
Madam’s accountant

You need to have a talk
With our heiress

She’s cutting checks
Left and right

She just bought Mita
Another apartment

This time
Facing Central Park

Mita claims
She never asks

For anything

But she knows
How to work the Madam

She complains

Madam so dependent on her

Works 7 days

87 hour weeks

Back and forth from Brooklyn

Doesn’t see
Her own kids

Bought her
And her husband

Lincoln Navigator Luxury Sedan

We don’t ask Madam
For anything

She gives us

She gives us

Complains about high cost
Of private school

And college for her 3 children

Pays tuition bills

Bought her son a new car
After car crash

Pays for niece’s cancer treatment

We try to fix
My son’s car

But Madam says
It’s unsafe

Better get new car

$21,000 Isuzu

I dedicate my life
To Madam for 14 years

I am in her room
More than I am in my own house

My husband is mother and father

While I am at work with Madam

She never wants me
To take off

Calls me every night

To make sure
I get home safe

I’m entitled

I’m entitled

Writes check for

On top of the real estate

Will buy her a country home
But can’t be too far away

I don’t know what I would
Do without you Mita

I need you around me

I need you

And she is the personal ATM
For much of the hospital staff

Thousands and thousands
Of dollars

Of gifts
To the staff, their families
The doctors
The hospital

Thank you Madam

Thank you so much

Don’t thank me

Thank my father

I didn’t earn a dime
In my life

I didn’t earn a dime

They need security Murray

You know what to do

This is money better spent
Than on a silly doll!

A doll!

You’re the only one
Without your hand out

And this is not for us
It’s for our daughter

Murray calls Madam
In her room

– I need to talk to you Mrs. Powell

– I need to talk to you about tax ramifications

She can’t hear very well


– Tax ramifications
– You can’t buy everyone these gifts
– There will be tax consequences

– It will hurt you

I can’t hear you

– And we need to talk about your will

I already have one

– No you do not Mrs. Powell
– You have about 5 versions of it
– All unsigned

What? I can’t hear you Murray

Oh, why don’t you
Just come to the hospital

It’s about time
We met


Copper conversion
From the ore to the metal
Is accomplished by smelting

During smelting
The concentrates are dried
And fed into one

Of several different types
Of furnaces

The sulfide minerals
Are partially oxidized
And melted

To yield
A layer of matte
A copper-iron sulfide
And slag
An upper layer of water


Jameau Bebe Nr. 9

Bisque socket head

Fully jointed Jameau body

Lovely bulbous brown paperweight eyes

With painted upper
And lower lashes

Thick multi-stroke brows

Closed mouth

Shading and accents
To lips

Pierced ears
Long pink earrings

Blond human hair

White cotton dress
Underwear socks
And pink leather shoes



February 1925

The Copper King

Contracts a cold

Turns to pneumonia

Sarah, Fannie
Marilyn and Sherman Jr.

Gather at his bedside

Hold vigil

Marilyn just got married
To third husband

Marilyn Powell LeFevre

Dies evening
Of March 2nd

86 years old

The Copper King
Has died

Has died

The contents of his wallet
At death:

A copper penny

Newspaper clippings

Photos of himself
With Sarah

Photo of Chantal

A pistol permit

A ticket to
The Metropolitan Museum

The hymn
Abide With Me

Abide with me
Fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens
Lord with me abide

Butte, Montana
Flies its flags

At half staff

The New York Times:

Senator Powell
Led an exciting life

He won fortune
In western history

Achieved power
In politics
And rose to fame
As an art collector

He was the son
Of a farmer

More than 400 flower arrangements
Sent to Copper King Castle

Lilies of the valley
From President Coolidge

I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness
Where’s death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me

His will decrees
That Sarah and Fannie
Must vacate Copper King Castle

Within a few years

House be sold
Along with virtually
All of the possessions

Except for the art

Abide with me

Proceeds divided
Among the 4 children

His estate worth
250 million dollars

Gives Sarah
Bequest of 2.5 million

All of the belongings
Of Paris apartment

Rug hangings

Gives her Eleutherna

I wanted Eleutherna
I wanted it

Why did he give her so much?
We’re his children
From his first and proper marriage

Protects her collection
Of gold, silver, diamonds, pearls, rubies

Sarah and 3 older children
Are the executors

But Sarah
Promptly resigns

Doesn’t want
Conflict with the children

Knows they don’t like her

Since Francine
Is under 21

Father puts in
Special provisions

An allowance
Until she is 27

The rest of estate
Split with her siblings

Bequeaths to
The Metropolitan Museum

More than 200 paintings
Plus sculptures by Donatello

Canova tapestries
17th century rugs

Grecian and Etruscan antiquities

But the gifts
Come with a catch

Abide with me

The museum must
Accept entire collection

And create
A special Powell wing

To display every piece

Every piece

Or they can’t have
Any of it

Abide with me

Was he joking?

Some of the paintings
Are fakes

We can’t display those

Every piece

Or they can’t have
Any of it

The Met reluctantly forced
To turn it down

Turn it down

They will want my possessions

But they can’t have them

They can’t have them

Marilyn LeFevre
Is outraged


How dare they?

Any city in Europe
Would have begged for this collection

It’s that important

Oh calm down Marilyn
Calm down

Don’t you get it?

Daddy knew they’d say no

He didn’t want them to have it

He knew they’d say no

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies

In life, in death, O Lord abide with me

Sarah immediately begins
To look for new home

907 Fifth Avenue

2 blocks away
From Copper King Castle

Francine lies
In her bed at night

The sweats

Can’t sleep
Can’t sleep

Thinks about her father

What she overheard him
Say to her mother

I’m concerned about Fannie

All of these men
Will be courting her

And she who still likes dolls

Won’t know what to do

Once said to her

No one will ever
Love you for yourself

They’ll love you
For your money

Never love you
For who you are

– You’re so pretty Fannie

– All of the men
– Are going to desire you

– All of the men

– They will love you for your mind
– As well as your heart and beauty

– All of the men

– How can they resist those blue eyes?

She falls asleep

Of her father

In the Silver Ghost


Through the plumes of smoke


Through the plumes of smoke

Bushy beard
Not a hair awry

Raising his fist

December 8, 1926

Francine Powell
The Copper Heiress

One of the most
Desirable debutante
Bobbled wavy hair
To ear length

Pearl necklace

Dark sleeved dress
With a lazy shawl collar

Elegant white gloves

All of the contents
Of Copper King Castle
Are auctioned off

And a wrecking ball
Reduces the castle
To rubble

All gone

Rooms where she played
With Chantal

The music room

The pool where she
Swam laps

Now she lives
With her mother

At 907 Fifth Avenue

Taking painting lessons
With the handsome renowned painter

Jean Paul Matteau

19 years older than her

They talk about art
And life
And books

Paints scenes out of her window

Central Park in winter

The silver lake
Up in Maine

Over the Pacific

Parisian café scenes

He flirts with her
Dark haired

Forest mint
And black musk fragrance

Always paints
In a suit and tie

She wants him
To be interested

He takes her out for dinner

But just as a friend
Not courting her

Meets a suitor

No one will ever
Love you for yourself

Richard James Stockwell


Son of Father’s
Long time accountant

Grew up in Connecticut
But attended Manhattan’s
Elite Trinity School

Member of the track team
And debating society

Works as a young banker

J and W Seligman and Co.
54 Wall Street

Well groomed
High forehead

Meets Francine
At Ritz Carlton roof party

Begins to court her

Attended right schools
Overlapping social circles

Has no money of his own

They’ll love you
For your money

But does not seem
Interested in that

Not a fortune hunter

I think he is interested
In who I really am

Jean Paul asks
About her

– Is he a good catch Fannie?

– I will be so happy for you Fannie

Winks at her
Gleaming teeth

But she doesn’t want
Jean Paul to be happy for her

She wants him to be jealous

But he is not

He is not

More interested in movie stars

Paints their portraits

Dates them left
And right

Sarah is unsure
About Stockwell

But it is announced
The world’s social editors

The Copper King Heiress
Francine Powell

Is engaged to marry
Richard Paul Stockwell

Photos of them
Mugging for the cameras




Adoring him

Smug smile

Princeton Graduate
To Marry Copper Heiress

New York Sun

Neither he nor his father
Are listed in the New York Social Register

Photo of Richard
With a bunch of men


Holding up their drinks

Simple well-tailored sleeveless gown

Formal engagement party

Given by one of the descendants
Signer of Declaration of Indepedence

80 guests

Orchestra plays

Someone to Watch Over Me

To my heart he carries the key
Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me

They’ll love you
For your money

I think I have met
The man of my dreams

Small wedding
Santa Barbara

At Eleutherna

Only members
Of the family present

Richard’s parents
Sarah’s sister Amelia
And her husband

White wedding gown
With a veil

And a train
That trails 6 feet

Enormous bouquet
Of flowers

Sarah and Fannie
Agree to give the groom

A large dowry

One million dollar

No one will ever
Love you for yourself

On the wedding night

She is unprepared

It hurts

I don’t like it

I don’t like it

Marriage is never consummated

It’s never consummated



She allows
No one to see her

No one

She will only
Talk on the phone

High pitched, refined French

The Copper Heiress

102 years old

You may not call her

You cannot have her number

She will only call you

If she desires to

If she desires to

When Madam
Is still living at 907 Fifth Avenue

Refuses to see anyone
Face to face
Refuses to

Other than a housekeeper

Her mother’s former social secretary

A few maids

Does not want
To look people in the eye

Or allow them
To get physically close

No human contact
Except on the phone

If Madam needs money
Fills out a check

Send Stella out
To cash it

On a foggy day
Looks down on the street
From the window

In her nightgown

Silver hair

A ghost in the mist

The ghost of Fifth Avenue

If Madam want to
Go down from her 12th floor apartment

To her 8th floor apartment

She uses the back stairs

Avoids the elevator

And her neighbors

Carefully organized
Shoe collection

In boxes
Marked with dates

Madam last wore them

Hundreds of boxes

Debutante dancing heels

Shoes she wore
In Jean Paul’s studio

To the Metropolitan Opera
With her mother

Hiking boots

Instructs her lawyer
To bid on dolls

I want the doll
At any price

Millions of dollars
On French antique dolls

Bru baby doll

Blue paperweight eyes

Long painted upper
And lower eyelashes

Long feathered eyebrows

Red accent dots
By the eye corners

And in the nostrils

Open mouth
To insert a baby bottle

Mechanism in back of head
With a key

Used to suck up liquid

When the key turns


But he misses the bid

He misses the bid

How could you blow it, Murray?

How could you?

– I’m sorry Mrs. Powell
– I’m sorry

Continues to follow
Current trends

Reads the newspapers


The Kingdom and the Power:
Behind the Scenes at the New York Times

The Flintstones
The Jetsons

If furniture
Has to be reupholstered

Demands same materials
Be used

They must track down
Vintage fixtures and fabrics

The same materials

Just like
When she moved

Into the apartment
Back in the 1920s

Even the light bulbs
Have to be antique

Anything related to Mother

Anything related to Chantal

While Nature does so much for him
For me she does nothing at all
From flower to flower it gaily flew
A lighting where it pleased him most
“Alas!” the pining cricket sigh’d
What differences us two divide

She wants to preserve


I want it
Just like Mommy

Et mon Papillon


Installing new bathrooms

Have meeting
With the workers

She’s on the other side
Of the door

They cannot see her
On the other side

Just the voice

Quick flash of silver

Even though
She has not been

In the sun
In decades

Madam develops
Skin cancer

Probably from her days
In the sun

Hawaii, Santa Barbara, Maine

Red blotches

Thinks they will go away

But they won’t

They won’t

She is in a panic

Lesion by right eye

Sore by her mouth

Difficult to eat

Begins ordering
Ice cream, buttermilk, bananas

Tells Barbara
Family physician’s widow

And friend

Tells goddaughter
Daughter of the late Jean Paul Matteau

Insists she see a doctor

But Madam refuses

– I’ll get a doctor
– To see you Fannie

Major New York oncologist

An unusual house call

Dr. Peter Schumann

First stranger
In her home

In more than a decade

Out of messy room

Lit by single candle

75 pounds

Old soiled bathrobe

Towel wrapped
Around lower face

Transported to hospital

Outside 11th floor window

View of Gracie Mansion

Boats on the East River

But she keeps shades closed

Plastic surgery
To repair her face

Loves the attention
And fuss

Especially after
They all learn who Madam is

Not an ordinary patient

The Copper Heiress
Is among them

Hospital social worker

Speaks to her
About a discharge plan

Return home
Attended to

By private nurses
Or go to long term facility

But Madam will have
None of it

None of it

Not an ordinary patient

You don’t understand

I’m not going anywhere

I’ll make it worth your while

All of you

They’ll love you
For your money

Not an ordinary patient



Francine reads
In the social pages

That Richard hooks up
With Constance Warren

Over 20 years his senior

2 of her 3 children
Older than him

Newly divorced
From 3rd husband

If Richard were just
A junior bank clerk

She would not see him
As a desirable suitor

But thanks to
Fannie’s dowry

He’s a wealthy man

Constance is older

But she’s experienced

Offers social entre

Family owns publishing houses

Feeling rejected

Fannie and Sarah

Head west for Santa Barbara


And Hawaii

Writes to Jean Paul Matteau

You will be disappointed
In your student

Have not painted much

The wonders you would create
If you spent a few months here

On this enchanting island

The color of the water
Is jade, sapphire, mauve

Streets lined
With trees

Garnished with
Bright red flowers

Formal pink, yellow clusters

One night
We saw a moonlight rain shower

Followed by a glorious rainbow

Receives letter from Richard

I have wanted to write you
But have hesitated

It seems impossible
To convey with words

I am very sorry
That the end came

As it did

Files for divorce
In Reno, Nevada

Divorce still a novelty
Paperwork easier there

Arrival in Reno
Creates a stir

Large entourage

Her mother
Her dogs
A chef
A butler

A chauffeur
For the Silver Ghost

Lease entire floor
Riverside Hotel

Why American’s 50,000,000 Heiress
Cast off her $30 a week Prince Charming

Remains sequestered
With her mother and staff

Until granted a divorce

Within hours
They leave for Eleutherna

Trips to San Francisco
And Hawaii

Photo by Associated Press

Fur coat
Cloche hat
Art Deco diamond bracelet

Has aged

The last public photo
Of Francine Powell

The last photo

Winters in her 12th floor
New York apartment

Summers at Eleutherna
And Hawaii

Painting lessons
With Jean Paul

4 days a week

Painting of
Blue night blooming flower

Half- brother Anders
Big spender

Loves the race tracks

Dies at age 61


Buried in Father’s mausoleum

With his mother
And Chantal

Disapproved of Father’s marriage
To Sarah

Minimal contact
With them

No contact
With his own children

After divorcing
Their mother

Ties binding the Powells
Deteriorate more

Marilyn divorces again

Stops inviting Fannie and Sarah
To her parties

Manhattan mansion
Long Island waterfront home

Lives 6 blocks south of them
In Manhattan

But hear nothing from them

Sarah feels
Abandoned by step children

They are not good to you Mommy

And you have been nothing
But good to them

Spends time with Jean Paul

Hoping that he will ask her

Ask her

Hours at his studio

Gives Fannie
An artist’s palate
That he crafted for her

Making silly bets
For a dime

Has a jar of her dimes

Starts having
Dollhouses custom built for her

Commissions Parisian toy store
Au Nain Bleu

To arrange construction
Of miniature French chateau

Fixes up Eleutherna

6 large bedrooms

Servants’ quarters

Parquet floors

Marble fireplaces

Gold, green, rose
Antique chandeliers

Crystal and amethyst glass

Plated bathroom fixtures
Shaped of dolphins and swans

Reflecting pool
Orange trees

Painting studio

Bedroom overlooking
Lawns, rose garden

And the Pacific

Dozens of half size
Empire style chairs

To display
Her dolls

Line the chairs
Up against

The walls of the bedroom

Rotate the selection

Except for one

Smiles at

Bisque socket head

Blue glass paperweight eyes

Open mouth

Four gleaming porcelain teeth

Brunette mohair wig

La vue vous
Te plait mon papillon?

But while the cricket thus complained
A sudden uproar round him reign’d
A troop of children rushing by
Come hunting for the butterfly

One day a visitor
Arrives in Jean-Paul’s studio

A young admirer of the artist


21 years old

A model for magazines

High cheek bones
Porcelain skin

Long, flowing blond hair


Fannie can see
That they give each other

One look

And they know

One look

She walks out of the studio
And goes home

And they know

Her half-brother
Sherman Grayson Powell, Jr


Heart attack
At a fishing camp in Montana

Leaves most of his estate
To a 17 year old boy

A book gets published
About the Powell family

By a former family employee

Excerpts all over the papers


Passages from letters

The Copper King
Fathering illegitimate children
With Indian women

His son Sherman
A sexual predator

Young boys

A boozer

Burning through his riches

A ruthless, stingy social climber

An ambitious teenage fortune hunter

Became pregnant
Out of wedlock

Francine might not
Be her daughter

And Francine
Or Fannie as the family calls her

A spoiled child
A virgin with a mother complex

Sarah and Fannie

Already keeping
A low profile

Decide to withdraw
Even further from the world

Puzzles friends and acquaintances

Can’t remember
The last time

They saw them in person

At the opera?

Rumors that they’re germaphobes

Bought up 3 rows of seats
At the opera

So no one could
Sit near them

3 rows of seats

And then nothing

No longer
Visit Eleutherna

Last time
Is 1953

She was 43
Mother was 75

They continue
The upkeep of the estate

Fully staffed


Continues to pay dues
At the gold club

For the next 60 years

After Sarah dies

Fannie completely

For good

For good



When you see her in person
Ask her Murray

Ask her

The least you can do is ask

– I can’t Sylvia
– I just can’t

For the safety of your daughter
And granddaughter

You will Murray
You must

They need security

They need security

He asks
To be alone with her

Holds her hand

– Mrs. Powell
– You can’t give all of these gifts

– You will get taxed severely

– Giving a painting to a museum
– Is another story

I will give to whom
I want to Murray

You can’t tell me otherwise

– But you’re short on cash Mrs. Powell

I’ll sell the two Sargent paintings

I want half of the money
To go to Mita

– In the last version of your will
– Which you also did not sign

-Mita gets a third of all of your possessions
– And your goddaughter Vanessa gets another third

That sounds right

– Why are you giving millions of dollars
– To a nurse

She’s not a nurse

– She is a nurse

She’s not a nurse to me
She’s my friend

– That is an expensive friend

She says she’ll leave me!

She’ll leave me!

– No she won’t

She will!

I can’t let that happen!

Ca ne peut pas
M’arriver a moi!

She’s like a daughter

The daughter I never had

I can’t let that happen!

– Ok, Ok.
– What about your goddaughter


– You haven’t seen her in 40 years

She’s a dear
She’s Jean Paul’s daughter

-Well, a problem
– With the most recent version of your will
– Is that you insisted on this clause:

– I intentionally make no provision
– In my Last Will and Testament
-For any members of my family
-Whether on my paternal or maternal side
– Having had minimal contact with them over the years

Yeah, so?

– And then you have another clause
– About your heirs receiving the last third

Yeah, so?

– It doesn’t make legal sense Mrs. Powell

Keep it
That’s the one I’ll sign

Are you happy now?

– No, I’m not Mrs. Powell
– Because it doesn’t make any legal sense

– It will create lots of turmoil in your family

That’s what I’ll sign Murray
End of conversation

I checked off a doll
In that Sotheby’s catalogue

I want it any price

Any price Murray

She’s beauty

I’m tired

I feel weak


How’s your family?
How’s your daughter and grandchild?

– Well, speaking of my daughter Madam

Later on
While Madam sleeps

She dreams of Chantal

A troop of children rushing by
Came hunting for the butterfly
With nets, and hats, and kerchiefs too
The gaudy insect they pursue
He struggles hard to get away
But falls at last a helpless prey
One seizes on his wings of gold
Another at his body aims,
A third upon his head lays hold

“Ah ha!” the cricket said,” I see
What ‘tis a brilliant thing to be
If such the cost to those who shine
I ought no longer to repine
But to live happy I must be
Contented with obscurity”

Tu etais trop belle, Chantal

Trop belle

Too beautiful

She dreams of her father

The Silver Ghost


Bushy beard
Not a hair awry

Through the plumes of smoke


The plumes of smoke

Give way to clouds


Raises his hand

As if to wave

But it is a fist

He has raised a fist

In the clouds

Heaven’s morning breaks
And earth’s vain shadow flee
In life, in death, O Lord
Abide with me


© Matt Bialer

Matt Bialer is the author of 11 collections of poetry including RADIUS, WING OF LIGHT (Les Editions du Zaporogue), ALREADY HERE, ARK, BLACK POWDER (Black Coffee Press), TELL THEM WHAT I SAW (PS Publishing). BRIDGE, FREQUENCIES (Leaky Boot Press), HE WALKS ON ALL FOUR, KINGS OF MEN (Dynatox Ministries) and ASCENT (Bizarro Pulp Press). His poems have appeared in many print and on- line journals including Retort, Le Zaporogue, Green Mountains Review, Gobbet, Forklift Ohio and H_NGM_N.   In addition, Matt is an acclaimed black and white street photographer who has exhibited his work widely. Some of his images are in the permanent collections of The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of the City of New York and The New York Public Library.   A book of his photos entitled MORE THAN YOU KNOW (Les Editions du Zaporogue) was published in 2011.   He is also an accomplished watercolor landscape painter with work in many private collections.   A book of his paintings SHADOWBROOK (Les Editions du Zaporogue) was published in 2012.