Tribute Acts – timely poem from Kevin Higgins

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Each witch hunt is a tribute act to the last.

There is always a committee of three.

The gravity in the room is such

they struggle to manoeuvre

the enormity of their serious

faces in the door.


Except in the TV version,

there is hardly ever a microphone.

Though they will usually give you

a glass of water and, if you ask,

tea in a slightly chipped cup.


The better quality of witch hunt

will provide you with a plate

of sandwiches which, these days,

would likely include

coeliac and vegan options.


One member of the panel interviewing you

is always a man with a shakey voice

who obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing.

His wife thinks he’s at the garden centre.


Another is a woman trying

on a posh accent for size

who looks like she’s dreaming

of killing you

in some way that would give her

special pleasure.


It is written,

somewhere deeper than law,

that no such committee

shall ever be constituted

unless it contains

at least one ex-hippy.


There is always the moment

when a pile of typed pages emerge

from an already opened envelope,

and one of them asks you:

how, then, do you explain this?


And the three of them sit there,

pretending it’s a real question.


And you realise this committee is history

paying you the huge compliment

of making you (and people like you)

the only item on the agenda;


that in asking you about what you said,

did, or typed on the mentioned dates,

they reveal themselves

like the black tree at the bottom of the garden

that only shows its true self in winter.