THE SHOREDITCH EMPIRE 1920


after the painting by Walter Sickert at Christchurch Art Gallery


Standing in the box, posed for my snatch
of stolen limelight in the music hall;
eyes, mouth – petechiae, no face at all,
merely a suggestion, judged to match
the academic curtain’s draping slash
of arterial blood; high above the stall,
only in shadows daring me to fall
and no one waits to make the saving catch.
My dress is hued like oxygen starved flesh,
and on my own raw flesh is roughly smeared,
a gesture or afterthought, the artist cared
more for my cape collar and my cloche.
The only show that matters is my own,
is inward, and reserved for me alone.

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