Crown Imperial

Where do the willing
Writhe and fall
Amidst the miserly
Damp of debt
Like plutonium
Like phosgene
Heavier than air
From meanness derived
To crush the lungs
To smother breath
In tranches unfulfilled
They fall
Craters replace creativity
Pageantry obscuring penury
The glowing stones
Bought with blood
Adorn the crown
Pressed on the poor
While glitt’ring tiaras
Heads bedeck
Not kings but
Myriad presidents
And though the popes
Their thrones disdain
Join CEOs
Still to teach
The willing poor
To worship pain.

Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..