Beggar’s Opera, 1963
It being November, I wore my tartan mini,
knee high boots, white polo neck.
Me, being me, I took my part to
heart, even in rehearsal.
I wrapped my baby in a woollen
shawl, flung her like I kicked off
my shoes, not truly inhabiting my
skin. We whores rehearsed again
and again till heart and action as
one. Till perched on the stage
drinking tea, whispers passed one
to another – Kennedy is shot. Like
that moment on a see saw of
truth – what is real and what
This poem was written in response to a prompt on one of Wendy Pratt’s online monthly courses. November 2020. I can’t remember the exact prompt, but it was something to do recalling a momentous historical event. I submitted it to Reach Poetry in February and it was published in March 2021. What I liked about writing the poem, was that I didn’t know where I was going with it. I imagined myself on the stage rehearsing – something I’ve never done before or since – and the ending came. Wendy Pratt has a wonderful way as a tutor of dropping a hint, a direction you hadn’t thought of, and away you go! The poem was popular with a number of Reach readers, which is always a plus.
President Kennedy and motorcade minutes before his assassination in Dallas, 22nd November 1963
References: Both photos are taken from Wikipedia and are in the public domain.
Painting of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, Act iii Scene X1 . The opera was a satire of Italian style of opera. It used popular tunes of ordinary people. Satire of politics, poverty and injustice.
Wendy Pratt has published 4 collections of poetry. She was the first female editor of Dream Catcher and her latest collection is When I Think of My Body as a Horse.