The NS Poem: I Was Woken by the Leader of the Free World

A new poem by Maurice Riordan. 

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flying over Willesden on his way to Hertfordshire.
For once I was having a nice dream. A gig or party.
With loads of youngsters in Docs and distressed jeans. 
I was telling them a joke with a hilarious pun on turnip. 
It doesn’t translate but it had the room in stitches. 

If you’d been looking in the upstairs window
– I seldom draw the curtains these clear winter nights –
you’d have caught the angelic smile on my sleeping face.
And maybe found yourself smiling back like my father used
when he hovered above my cot for me to wake.

Now the helicopters are thundering right overhead
and I’m wide awake and scowling,
my father’s turned away in angry disappointment. 
I get out to watch the leader of the free world
become a silent birdlike dot in a glorious dawn sky.


Maurice Riordan is an Irish poet, translator and editor, and the author of four poetry collections. His latest, "The Water Stealer (Faber)", was nominated for the TS Eliot Prize. His next book, "The Shoulder Tap", is forthcoming in 2021.

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This article appears in the 20 November 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Vaccine nation

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