Alan Morrison

The Recusants (c. 1986)

Our natures, frayed with sun-warped books
blanched khaki in the window beam;
cobwebbed in spider-hatching nooks
behind the hulking curtain screen
thick as the gown on plaster Mary
enshrined in the spare unpainted room.

Hood-souls, crouched in contrary
cottage-dark where doubts mushroom,
plunge the nicotined reredos
into outer blackness. Biding
by altar-jambs, we ghost a cross
in rigged ballot – then into hiding
opinions in empty larder priest-holes,
cowed by the blue torch Goosy-Gander.

Too strapped for brass, too bookish for proles,
our emblem, a grounded germander;
recusants of class – rubbed rosaries
for worry beads; drubbed socialism
waxing in candle-lit crannies.

Scrapers of coupon catechism
trampled by the Thatcher anathema –
snagged grants bar university
for familial fiscal asthma:
lapsed capitalists in bankruptcy.

Our stomachs howl hosts of weak refills
from stewed tea-bags: we fast past Lent.
Episcopacies of toast-racked bills
numb us to TV’s otiose vent:,
while our own obscure, un-broadcast soap
is watched by the set-top’s porcelain Pope.

Alan Morrison © 2008
from A Tapestry of Absent Sitters (Waterloo Press, 2008)