Pantomime

Her mouth like a harmonica,
the wicked hausfrau howls away
long catcalls from the stalls.

In sequins on her cream trapeze,
the fairy is a mannequin
who bats her wand, an eyelash.

The heroine has knackered thighs:
she does not slap them like the prince
in knickerbocker velvet.

A foot propels the stooge onstage,
his bafflement intact; he wears
bright motley on his cheeks.

Laughter licks the widow wet:
her gobstopper layers! She tuts
the scrawniest of orchestras.

The safety curtain times its fall
to perfection; in the gallery,
the usherettes are playing drunk.

Whorls of smoke. A shush of drums.
Someone beheads the manager
with a shriek of sharpened laughter.

Something prompts the lumber-horse
to gawp at the prompter's wing. Its eyes
are exophthalmic, and its hooves

tap on the splintered boards until
they bleed. An ASM provides
its coup de grace, indifferently.

It is darker than sleep. The audience
is gathered with the tubs and stubs,
brushed into sacks of gash applause.

With a stanley knife, the tired plush
is all too quickly gutted. Torches
flick the rank celebrities,

scrawl on their dashing signatures;
from the gods, their only testament's
the broken munch of glass.

From the book Robinson Crusoe's Bank Holiday Monday