Up the Monument. Archival Photograph
A workman in a flat cap on his honkas
wraps three weathered fingers around the Earl’s
weathered coat. It’s nineteen sixty four, Earl Grey
the cornerstone of a civic past
in need of cleaning up, or out. Upright
in a toggled collar, he smiles faintly
while the workman grimaces, polishing
this head of a head of government, less
a champion of civil and religious
liberty, as the plinth would have it, than
a constitutional tinkerer, whose purpose
was to preserve and not to overthrow,
leaving revolution to street preachers,
hippies, demos, out of camera view below.
Alex Shaw is from South Tyneside and currently studies English and German at Jesus College, Oxford. His poetry has appeared in The London Magazine, Ink Sweat & Tears and The Literateur. He won the Martin Starkie Prize in 2015 and was shortlisted for The London Magazine Poetry Prize in 2016. He previously served as President of Oxford University Poetry Society.