Comic’s Last Tour

You nurse the dog-end of the aged Billy Natchett
as we queue in the motorway café
beside the limp salad sandwiches and
tire-face pastry, a warm pot of tea
to sustain us on our last lap.

With bedroom slippers on purple-swollen
feet, you shuffle from drink station to cash
register, murmuring the lines from your act,
confused between digs—alert to your public,

who cope with nappy changes, spilled orangeade,
every one inattentive to your punchlines.
I’m your nurse now, not your nephew or fan.
Tonight’s a tough crowd, laughs hard to find

on the road between Crewe and Liverpool.

Appeared in Web Del Sol Review Summer 2003