from Kilpeck Voices
A piercing cry upon the pipe;
A scream of anguish from the strings;
The dull, insistent throbbing of the drum –
We’re dragged to dance, though our legs ache;
Though every arm feels stretched to breaking-point –
We’re dancing out the story of our lives:
Jigging with joy, shuffling off sorrow –
A leap, a twist, a twirl – and the final tumble.
We: the bent, the bandy-legged, the broken-backed, the bowed:
Limpers and hobblers, knock-kneed foot-draggers:
Coughers and wheezers, snifflers and spitters.
We: the belted and beaten, cursed and lip-lashed.
We: who began thin and ended thin –
You catch us in the short glance of your eye
Observing the ground, not looking up – except
To see a bird’s wing slice the sky.
Cap-doffers, forelock-pullers, yes-sir men –
We will do what you tell us to do;
Thank you gruffly with a nod of the head;
And hate you from the bottom of our hearts.
The Green Man Speaks
"Here comes another toff with notebook and binoculars –
Professor Squint, and his lady, Bored.
Hold your usual poses, and try not to laugh.
Sid – Look fierce, bare your filed teeth.
Sheila – Gape as wide as possible, even if it hurts.
I love to watch their puzzled mugs – as odd as ours!
Crease-browed, cross-eyed, dropped gobs gawping.
They’re trying, in their clumsy way, to work us out:
Too earnest to understand a joke;
Too dull to recognise themselves.”