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Lay for the Day
21st April

The birthday of Elizabeth II.

The Quean

Queynte conquered,
The streets are full of fish.
Towers are sunken
According to her wish.

Her rufous servants
Have doffed their hats.
They stand to attention,
Their little heads she pats.

She rides in a carriage
That rolls on two wheels.
Her home’s in a forest
Between soft fields.

Her back door’s locked
But some friends come in there;
Her front doors fine copper
In a folding pair.

Her hall has red carpets
To greet her guest.
Dew wets the forest
When he comes in to rest.

With lance borne upright
He pricked through the valley.
She slips down to kiss him
In a narrow alley.

The clock runs backwards,
The mails are delayed,
The noon gun’s knackered,
The cats are unspayed,

And cartloads of kittens
In her lap find succour,
For she never called an orphan
Or a beggar “motherfucker”.

And some call it chaos
And some call it peace
When queynte conquers
And the streets are full of fish.


John Gibbens
from Collected Poems


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar


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