Dance macabre

Tarek Ali Hassan

Absurd theatre of the absurd:"at the postmortem of a friend"


(for Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Fernando Arrabal) 

Act the first 
theatre of the absurd 
what more absurd than this? 


the protagonists are racing along the shores of Loch Lomond screaming with joy 
ecstatic with infinite expectation 
the scene is all promise 
the audience vibrates with anticipation 

my friend is nowhere 
the protagonists disappear 
they say: he is suddenly 
in the hereafter out of time 
they say “the experts say” a freak accident 
the PM confirms: should never have happened a freak thing! 
he should be alive in the here and now 

I minister over the post mortem 
it is the law they say, it is my shift and it was a freak accident, 
my heart is thumping 
it is about to pierce my rib cage! 
can I escape this dread reality 
pretend it all a lie? 
I dutifully descend into this cave of hell 

Act the second 

the underworld is cold but crowded 

in the crowded aloofness when lovers kissed 
in the contorted bed when sheets stuck together with pus 

in the huge cave when the head was sawn down to the brain 
when the world looked and laughed unseen 

when the dead man screamed and tore his heart 

when the old woman's eye begging for a straw 
got nothing but a howling of cold air from the conditioners and refrigirators 

in that noisy emptiness full of hidden screams 

full of untold history of stories and poetry suppressed, 

there flew ghost kisses of lovers unborn 
stillborn by games of custom 

smothered in the womb 

oh monstrous kindness 
of all this fanfare 
left now is the grey jelly smelling of fish 


when the brain was exposed and the iron teeth cut deep into the sacred vault 

when the heart was cured in antiseptic but still ached and more 

the old woman's dust spoke the anger and was swept 
nothing naught nothing 
nothing nothing nothing 

nothing murmured the turbulence in the bone 
nothing being nothing 
nothing will be the same again 

Act the third 
all the King’s men.. all the sound and fury.. 
the fanfare this time fails to stir