Ken Champion


First Day Back


Despite their stifled yawns

he tries to tell them abut Marx

and to sum up his thesis in a sentence.

Our reality, consciousness, identity,

our political, cultural and economic systems

are determined by the ways in which we

technologically transmute the physical world.

What do you think then? he asks. Is it true?

You’ve got ten seconds to answer.


They look alarmed, so he holds

his hands out, fingers cupping,

encouraging. Joke, he says, joke.

You’d prefer a story, wouldn’t you,

and their grins explode. Yes, they shout,

like sitting round a fire telling tales.

He could see firelight flickering on their faces.


They’re smiling now; tall, smooth-skinned

Somalians, gaunt Rwandans, gentle

full-faced Ghanaians, gold bangled

Nigerians making their Victorian values heard

(not for them the two inch band of flesh

at their waist, tops of knickers showing)

and the two Dagenham lads, sitting apart,

asking if this geezer was a brother of Groucho.


He sighs, smiles back at them,

asks how their summer has been.



Ken Champion © 2010