Poetry Journal

Issues / Volume 5 Issue 2 , November 2015



John Carey

  In Zuckmayer’s The Captain of Köpenick an ex-general,
  now Kommandant of a Prussian prison, has a company of
  toothless old lags riding brooms up a ramp to re-enact
  a famous cavalry charge: ‘Ah, my brave lads!’
  drools the ancient general, ‘What a fine body of men!’
  In a Brendan Behan play, a stage direction: 
  a nun in full habit shuffles on to the scene and in one
  swift movement, removes the habit to reveal
  a man in a shabby suit who informs the audience:
  ‘I’m a secret policeman and I don’t care who knows it!’
  From Joe Orton: a young expectant mother
  without benefit of wedlock, is counselled by a woman
  Social Worker of sinister gentility and born-again smugness:
  ‘Now don’t get me wrong. There is no more beautiful sight
  than two young married people making love’. 
  From Howard Barker, a scene set in the vault
  of the newly established Bank of England: a dissipated
  Charles II, a louche mistress, a wide-boy cockney courtier
  and the sudden irruption of  a furious Yorkshire merchant:
  ‘Piece of paper be buggered! I want to see my money, I want to touch it!’
  Howard Barker again. A conference in the Kremlin:
  Churchill, Stalin, a nervous foul-mouthed interpreter
  and a bewildered Scottish comedian. (Stalin has been
  misinformed that Churchill loves Scottish comedians.)
  ‘I can’t fucking translate that! This bastard will kill us all!’
  An Oz sample? Not easy. Dead-pan lines. Have to be there.
  From Williamson: the middle-aged son tells his father that
  he has just left his wife for his mistress. That night, the old dad
  catches him in flagrante on the sofa with yet another woman,
  half his age. The patriarch shakes his head: ‘Just not good enough, son’.