After Sheppàrd After Shelley: England in 2022

Bo, despised now but boosterish, resigns –
finishes off himself and the Queen with a bow!
Through public scorn of this politician, springs
muddled Truss, without knowledge or feeling,
syphoning our last reserves. The Queen drops,
into ‘our’ ‘cost of living crisis’, ‘dead’
to quote the caption of the little girl’s sketch
that proud Dad magnetized to the empty fridge.
Mannequins in mourning peer facelessly
from over-lit sex shop windows, Brexit
borders sealed for one silent minute, while
Time stands stagnant, our escape route
blocked by bridges raised ‘in honour’,
cranes lowered ‘with respect’. Subjects
respond with cargo cult carvings:
Thames mud sculptures, bat-faced
effigies propped up on cartoon limbs
beside closed public loos, shut hospitals.
Flowers are sprinkled on Holocaust
memorials and designated dumps.
Police club a lost rollerblader
to the ground, while crowds cheer
the regal recycling van (oh! tempestuous
mourning bursts along the Covid Wall).
I hold up a blank sheet of paper to protest
against elegies by Duffy and Armitage.
Once the lad is lifted to his rollerskated feet,
he’s wheeled off to the police van – and so am I!


Robert Sheppard

19th September 2022: the end of the Festival of Mourning
for our late Empress of Bressex ‘of happy memory’,
the final poem of British Standards (at last)

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