The Mime Artists

We occupy a space
In Time, on the tip
Of the tongue of
This forked existence.
Within this place
We do not move,
We have no names.

A smaller theatre than many,
Off chicaneless straightened
Motor-roads, we persevere
In aspic rote.
Performances to schedule,
Although audiences
No longer shuffle through
Ornate clicking-ticket
Turnstile posts;
They observe from afar,
Some dead, some remote,
And some these days
Just watch from home.

At the end of the programme’s
Print – a colophon – published
In diverse archaic languages
For our final footnotes.
All that’s there are
Epithets and anecdotes;
See these fading photographs
From our mute community;
This troupe, a trope,
Broken Truth’s fraternity,
And there, I pointed out,
I jabbed my wizened
Old man’s finger, look there
Where you should see mine!
Instead there is that space,
A smidgeon of flaky glue,
A residue of DNA.


The Goddesses of Poetry just decreed
To appoint us as War Poets;
That is the others, and you and me,
Who knew we would be so heroic?
We were the ones they placed in the dark,
Suffering beheld there unfolding,
They turned our pens to willow bark
To keep our problems holding.
I interpret my national anthem
Whether for the well or the unhealthy
As saying that heaven’s certain expansion
Is prioritised for the wealthy.
I divine that War’s mechanics
Were for times much less enlightened,
Yet frigates are flung to a further Atlantic
And the politicians are frightened
By people and places of difference.
Generals battle-bottled in their bellies
As Darius did with belligerence,
Elephants fed with timber and cherries.
There is a better way to win,
I’ve seen it in the mountains,
Including none I will now spin;
In the city square they moved the fountains,
Triestinos could see the deadly dictate;
Their camps killed children in Bloemfontein
And called it the orange state;
Then from Ross’s Landing through to Spain,
The place-names all irrelevant;
Argent, Chile, back again
In time for the weekly celebrant.
They claimed the land, they claimed the skies,
They’d claim our deaths for a profit;
They claimed the mint and foundry-wise
And sent us home atrophic.
It begins in the minds of men and softens
Those conscripted for their cause,
Informed grandparents grieving over coffins
To spontaneously applause.
So you and me, and them and us
Have these words for ordnance;
Publish your works, impound the guns,
We have a new theatre’s performance.