Poetry Corner

The Lords of Misrule

The Lords of Misrule by Tom Owen
On the banks of the Thames
Between Vauxhall and Ranelagh
Big Ben strikes for the masked ball.
Welcome to the Pleasure Gardens one and all!
A Parliament of Fouls in a world-upside-down,
Carnal carnivalesque,
Masquerading as government
The Lords of Misrule hail Clown Prince Boris,
See his gilded masque, bumbling persona,
How jolly, how funny, what a character!
The Harlequin bells ring in time
with his braying band of rapscallions.
Dissembling Dominos and demons,
Join the fray,
Costumes woven from finest canvas,
swathed in the Union flags
of an isolated island all at sea.
A Plague Doctor in beaked mask
casts his secret, birthright-ballot,
disguised as noble nationalism
to cure the diseased republic.
The High Priest of the ritual
Reclines louche on the front bench,
Snuff-box in hand,
Snorting the finest excess,
supping the overflowing cup of hubris
delicious in licentiousness.
In the corner rakish rapscallions
gamble pieces of a broken Britannia,
whilst groping veiled damsels,
milkmaids and shepherdesses.
Debauched whores and nuns -
that old dichotomy -
Faces ravaged by paint and powder,
Conceal to reveal.
Marie Antoinette flees a rakish devil across the chamber,
'Off with her maidenhead!' shouts Punchinello.
Turks, Sultans, Jews, Papal clerics
Display their costumed tropes,
But you mustn't believe your eyes
this is the guise of playful pageantry,
and the Commedia dell’Arte
Is only a Party.
Watch out, he's behind you!
Clown Prince Boris will restore 'orderrrrrrrr, orderrrrrrr'
Taking back control in a Domino cape
Constantly shifting-shape,
bringing down this house of cards
and rebuilding a new Pantheon of gods
Wearing cracked, golden masques
to complement their silver spoons.
Oh no he won't! oh yes he will!
Dissing our nineties Eurotopia,
Making us great. AGAIN.

The Master of Ceremonies bellows hope,
Come get your tickets, come cast your vote!
For at midnight on Halloween the mask will fall,
Bringing pandemonium to all…
                                       but the privileged, phew! 

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

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