From The Ghost of Abraham Lincoln

Are you pleased with your performance:

the eloquence of gunshot,

the genius of shooting a man from behind?


Well done you,

a five-star review

for the talented

John Wilkes Booth.


But the villain’s part is too easy:

that stage-coach swagger,

the slicked-back hair,

the sneer, the sniff,

that twisted, mustachioed grin.


I was an actor too,

far more versatile than you.

I was a farmer, a scholar,

a soldier, a lawyer,

son to a long-dead mother,

husband to a soon dead wife,

father to a dying child.


Behold, here is Lincoln,

a man of ambition,

a true politician.


But I’ll admit,

no part quite fit.

The costumes hung limp

or stretched too tight

around the shoulders,

badly woven, threadbare,

a button missing here and there.


But I did my best.

I never let my audience down

and I survived just long enough

to make a change,

before the bullet struck

and the spectre came,

when the sky opened

and the angels called my name.


But there was no peace for Lincoln.

I had another role to play:

hero and martyr,

poor dead father,

a necessary sacrifice

for a new-born nation.


   *      *      *      *    

There is a man sits frozen on a chair,

white marble giant with such wisdom

as he never knew in life.


The gravity of his authority holds me tight.

There is no escape.


And soon others come,

wanting to stare

into those unseeing eyes,

looking for an answer,

calling for an encore.


Yet the statue cannot speak.

And my voice cannot be heard.


(This poem is one of a collection entitled ‘Thirty Angry Ghosts’ which features poems in the voice of Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Queen Victoria, and many other famous historical figures.

‘Thirty Angry Ghosts’ is available at a range of bookshops and is free on Kindle Unlimited). Click here for the Amazon link.

If you would like permission to use this, or any of the poems, with students or other interested parties, please email suffolkwritersgroup@gmail.com.

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