Stay Quietly in Your Seats

By John Bartlett | 16 Feb 21
Creative Commons
The Romanovs & Ceaușescus
never saw it coming
the Marcoses, waving from the balcony,
mistook the shouts for cheering
until the barricades went down
despots should always keep
a helicopter on standby
in the back garden

In the House of Special Purpose
the Romanovs, bejewelled and bullet-proofed,
shared two chairs,
awaiting further instruction
royal Martyrs-in-Waiting

When Nicolae on the balcony
told Elena to shut up
we knew it was all over
when dictators warn restless crowds
‘stay quietly in your seats’,
Elena shouting out for silence,
the firing squad is drawing straws
for the blank cartridge

While the crowds were tearing down
the barricades in Pennsylvania Avenue
the President was tweeting, calling
to Melania, immobilised, unsure
which dresses could be left behind
forgetting even Imelda (mournful millipede),
abandoned shoes, 12,000 pairs

When beheading The Hydra
remember it responds
by growing extra heads