Second Prize Poem

2017 Open Poetry Competition

2016 Second Prize Poem.

Actors and Extras- by Peter Wyton

We recreate the coronation of a king
along the nave of an immense cathedral,
actors and extras moved like chessmen on a board
by floor managers equipped with microphones,
constantly advising groups of film producers
huddled around monitors in background gloom
Between takes, household names repose on canvas chairs,
bit-players lounge against Norman masonry,
or squat in rows wherever they can find a roost.
Wardrobe and make-up ladies mooch constantly
around the ranks of those ennobled for the day,
adjusting fur-lined robes, powdering noses,
ensuring that no one has absent-mindedly
assumed some spectacles, or a hearing aid.

Under thespian starter's orders once again
pseudo-clergy lead their monarch, newly crowned,
in slow procession to the gaffer tape marked point
where pomp is subject to rude interruption
as the Plantaganet does a demolition
job on Falstaff's confident promotion hopes.
"I know thee not, old man." The glacial put-down
uttered sotto-voce, by Tom Hiddleston,
absolves maturing majesty of boyhood pranks.
"Presume not that I am the man I was." The words
are music to the ears of Geoffrey Palmer's Lord
Chief Justice, as he moves to feel the collar
of the naughty knight whose louche activities have,
up to now, defied the long arm of the law.

We walk the walk again, again and yet again.
Someone in authority appears displeased
with something. Briefly, there is a terse exchange
in language William Tyndale never sanctioned
for church usage. Silence, then tension is defused
by Henry the Fifth, genially exchanging
R.A.D.A. reminiscences with princely brothers.
Back to square one we plod, about turn, repeat
the whole procedure three more times. The candlestick
I clutch drips wax upon my priestly vestments.
Then, providentially, a voice calls 'Cut!' We are released
to Green Room comfort and the evening meal.

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