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Robert Sheppard - from Weird Syrup: Contrafacts and Counterfactuals from John Keats

Robert Sheppard

from Weird Syrup: Contrafacts and Counterfactuals from John Keats

(part of the ‘British Standards’ volume of The English Strain project)


Written on the Day that Mr Bo was Committed to Prison

Times Radio drones its truth to
power itself. Bo’s shut away,

violator of his word, yet in his flattered
state all’s a lark. He

hasn’t killed 40,000
through grandeur’s neglect.

Our despoiler of both domestic
ties and international law

attempts to glue
the 3½ nations back, like his

busted bust of Pericles. He clutches
his Lucretius (‘holiday reading!’

he called it at his trial) who
proves all things play mutant algorithmic

tricks, from atoms to plagues for mortal
remains. Nothing to worry about (the

Cum said, in defence). Not even love,
thinks our Adonis of Loveliness,

hoisting himself in happy flights of
fantasy with the next future ex-

Mrs Bo! I know this is just a
thought-experiment, the fictional

culling of his wrecking crew,
since the real delusive Bo

is pounding out his podium’s latest
legend, SHIT – SHOWER – SHIRT:

BRITAIN’S BACK TO WORK, and it’s me
who’s banged up with a bastard sonnet.



Great Spirits Now on Earth are Sojourning

Vile men have been among us
Bo brushes tousled straw

Eyes watery weak he who
On Chequers plain drops

In post-viral fatigue then
Forges restrictions as a chain

For freedom’s sake And Go!
Who waits for rosy spring when

Dover’s gridlock and lockdown
Are down and his social smile will

Morph into an unmasked bite
In a city-centre Pret sandwich

The Age of the Cum will hum
With broken treaties and threats

Whispering the Rule of Sixes or
Sevens as the 1922 Committee

Perches on futurity’s frown their
Thinking must purchase wishes

With another will and will tell
Of mighty workings redaction

          redaction redaction
Shut up World listen to Bo’s

Exceptionalist script Britain
Invented strict freedom and

Sold it to the English as licence which
Is why some won’t fit their hooters

Into Chinese masks or leave the
Lock-in chain pub at curfew



Good Kosciusko, thy great name alone

Bo, your bright syllable
pops like corn,

sprays us with beneficent
seed, amid

‘collective forbearance’. The
‘iron laws of geometrical

progression’ clatter
under the everlasting Covid-rabid

splutter of your hymn
to ‘commonsense’. ‘Our’

NHS Heroes are now small
change trilling above

the testing cash-rich crashing
of tills until you tell,

forever stealing
round the British throne,

that on that
happy Brexit day

of no test no track no
trace no deal, yes,

your name with papery
Chamberlain shall be twined!

You’re gently mingling,
promising ‘tremendous’ bits

and ‘fantastic’ bobs far
far away where the great unmasked Go

patrols for evermore the
cloudless lorry parks of Kent.




On Seeing the Elgin Marbles

Bo’s body and spirit weak
though morality weighs light

on a sleepless night
‘negotiating’

lockdown Liverpool’s
hardship fund till

morning’s dull eye finds
blushing Europe demanding

its sugar-cube moebles
back in exchange for ‘our’

free-spawned English fish
Bo’s ill-conceived glories

of post-Brexit grandeur
spin in the dizzy feud

between hawkish anti-maskers
and those sick as a parrot

with Dido’s indescribable
classic catastrophe though

I could describe a
limping six foot Lord imploring

‘English free-born men to spare
what once was free’

although I am forced (by
Eng.Lit plc) to watch

our Onanistic Mankin dripping
over Athena’s stumps

reduced to trickling honeyed phrases
into the armpit of the English sonnet







Copyright © Robert Sheppard, 2022




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