Terry Collett

Gold Star - 23,291 Points (13/12/1947 / LONDON)

The Show Must Go On. - Poem by Terry Collett

The show must go on, Frogmore
says, and Lottie sits and has
a quick drag on her cigarette and
sips the foul coffee from the

drinks machine. Legs ache, head
banging, back stiff. She inhales
and thinks of Frankie and his
coming to her place the previous

evening and wanting to stay over
for the night. The cabaret takes it
out of her. The eyes on her, the talk
going on while she and the other

girls do their bit. Frankie such a
sweetheart, such a Mr Softy, curled
up on the sofa, his huge overcoat
as a cover, his head sunk into a

cushion, sleeping. She watches the
smoke rise from the cigarette, she
lifts it and the smoke rises in short
circles, like her father used to do

when she was a kid sitting on his
knee. Watch the smoke Kid, see
how it rises like some kind of message
to the gods. And he laughed about

that back then. She felt safe on his
knee even when he used to let it rise
and fall like some kind of riding horse.
Now it is just the cabaret and the lonely

nights and Frankie on the sofa because
his old lady threw him out and he won't
sleep with Lottie because he's a good
Catholic boy and anyways, he said, it'd

get too confusing and he'd just lay there
on the sofa on those nights and she'd lay
alone wanting company and maybe someone
to hug her real close. Hey, Frogmore says,

you in this next dance or what? What do I
pay you for, huh? Sit about and smoke
yourself to death? You want to die do it
in your own time not mine. She stubs out

the cigarette butt and drains the foul coffee
in one last gulp. The music has started up
their theme bit for her and other girls and
out there in the audience drinking, eating

and talking, maybe Frankie staring or her
father with his latest flame without beauty
or brains or nice figure or remembered name.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 24, 2013

Poem Edited: Thursday, February 7, 2013

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