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William Stephenson

The chairman’s face is cast in polycarbonate.
His teeth are tower blocks in the Docklands.
His eyes are Visa cards. Hello and welcome. 
That voice cost a hundred thousand pounds.

In the fourteenth row, the stand-up auditor
stands up. He shakes a sack. Out tumble
his ancestors’ jokes in a squeaking furry pack.  
A pig, a greyhound and a donkey walk into a bar.

The chairman ignores the interruption. Item one.
Apologies for absence.
The jokes chitter set-ups:
A cannibal tribe roasts three Scotsmen on a spit.
Winston Churchill phones his mother-in-law.

The jokes swarm across the floor, biting ankles,
snarling punch lines and double entendres.
The CEO thrashes them with a rolled-up report,
screams Stand your ground, but they skitter

under cuffs and collars, down shirts, up trousers. 
The shareholders haemorrhage into the street
where the wind rehearses its new routine:
Elvis, Stalin and Hitler get jobs at an abattoir.