The shepherd’s brow, fronting forked lightning


                                    a late impression of a Gerard Manley Hopkins’ sonnet –
British Standards


This poet’s brow flashes
forked fire, borrows

catastrophe and chaos
from you know (by now)

who. Tories topple into
second jobs, third

jabs, topping up; or
‘watering up’ their fluid pledges

to the people, as bags
of unvaxxed bones in the ICU

leak, then leap in last gasp’s grip,
where each breath should be our

memento mori. Hand to mouth
on twenty quid a week

less, ‘more retail policy offers’,
they await ‘big picture stuff’.

Bo the man is, just
about, PM, unmasked,

groaning as he dumps
in the NHS privy voiding

with no paper his hangover gush,
avoiding his crawlbaby CBI porkypie babble.

They do not suffer his paper shuffling suffering,
dyspraxic disgrace, his comic tone.

He who undied for us, sudden, espies
his own unfeeling piggy eyes, a mirror flash

along a smooth knife’s nice length –
but in whose fevered, fiery hand?


Robert Sheppard




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