Epitaph Charade

Joseph Brannan


A burnout, a banker,         day-weary dogwalker,

grimhanded pub bouncer,         baleful postgraduate,

carefree café lurker,         smirker, steeled street worker,

withering parliamentarian,        yeoman farmer,

blessed photographer,         basement dwelling denizen.

These but guises,        thieves’ dull garb

skins on skins to hide us        scarce shed unless

to change, to age,         trade in for a shroud.

But the crowd calls,        wants your title,

a label to frame you,         a name for your being.

Your bone-house hobbies        scarce compare,

This flesh-form withers,         whether rich or poor,

the dust will eat you;         will you dare

think beyond the masque,         the maudlin theatre,

pride, piety, and pity        perish with your fads.

What shall last then,         beyond the crumbling skin?

What will you leave        when all is ruin

Where be your trophies,        where is the glory,

What brave fairy-story        shall outlast you,

what dawns the day         you rise no more?

An epitaph charade        is a poor resolution.