A Once-Famous Ventriloquist Learns to Cope with the Drudgery of a Normal Life

He still scrapes the odd buck
from his most famous creation,
university shows with the odd f-word
to acknowledge his audience have matured.
Halfwit the Hippo and Lord Lovelunch
didn’t kick up a storm on e-bay.

His new voices are slightly skewed
variations of the same theme:
a confident chirp for the bank manager,
a geezerish growl down the pub,
and of course, the stage voice
whenever he’s recognised at B&Q.

He cleans a few windows to get by,
mostly for friends of friends.
He catches his reflection
as he swipes away the suds,
tries to think of it as another puppet,
brilliantly operated by a subtle mind.

Come evening, he dozes
in front of the flicker of his old stage,
the ache of his muscles the symptom
of a new self he’s building
like the meal ticket he once fashioned
in his father’s cluttered shed.

Goodnight my love, he whispers
as he kills the bedside lamp.
Goodnight my darling, I’m so proud of you!
replies the photograph of his ex-wife
pronouncing the p in proud
with passion and precision.

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