The Retired Bum-Bailiff

The Retired Bum-Bailiff

Christopher Barnes

“Scout me for him at the corner of the orchard,
like a bum-bailiff.” – Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

At eighty he is foot-dragging
down the turning cobbles
but wears a rip-along grin,
gas-bagging, tangent with shingle weed.

He buts the doorglaze to a chink
to ruffle feelings
as he did terminally
as cutthroat to the sheriff,
an ogle of suing on his face;
ejectment and receipts are his discipline.

The pleasures of the job were
accepted in lew of payment:
the fondling of hollow bums,
a slow rogering,
the unerring hierarchy of figures.