Peter Branson

Dear Jane

('Emma', BBC TH, Sundays, October, 2009)

TV confection, alchemy reversed,

transports the latest eighteenth century

direct to living rooms, at least in part,

the vital beat of third estate as yet

unseen or heard. They flit about like wraiths,

withdrawing tinct of pisspot, adding peace

of mind, wage slaves for fourteen hours a day

with no employment law, mere charity

betwixt them and the compost heap. Who boils

your handkerchiefs and blooded rags, cleans up

the steaming horseshit of your enterprise,

no mention in your books? All balls - and yet,

goose-feather irony, the mating game

your speciality, you’re bloody good!


'Ye are many - they are few.' ('The Mask of Anarchy', 1819)

Faint whiff’s ingrained, odour of old folk’s home,

no matter how discreet your chambermaid.

Do servants hum who pass invisibly

or leave an atmosphere where they have cleaned?

And what of cows and sheep that stink the streets,

the all pervading reek of working horse?

Stench of their waste gets everywhere; it coats

the shoe, infuses hem of petticoat.

No sense inside your muse of commonwealth,

seen, heard or smelt; gardener or gamekeeper,

wagoner, herdsman, bailiff, cut-purse, whore.

By hall and manor, church, assembly rooms,

taste of equality chokes on the breeze,

freedom and sisterhood, the guillotine.

Peter Branson © 2009

Is Anybody Listening?

Bar one or two who make the media

occasionally, the Laureate and such,

lite bites wheeled out on National Poetry Day

to entertain us with a verse or two,

they tell us no one’s bothered any more,

except the writers and the editors

of small press magazines nobody sees

and universities peddling degrees.

School stuff’s reprised, nostalgia playing tricks:

“I haven’t read a poem since of course.”

Then there’s performance nights, the Poems ‘n’


where everybody rhymes but no one  heeds,

like messages in bottles we’ve flung out

into a cold and lonely universe.

Peter Branson © 2009