Teviot House Debating Hall Foyer

I see you,
Eighty-four white men
staring down at me
in your fur-lined gowns
and white bow ties
From your rows and rows
of elegant black and white frames.
Each with a plaque:

So self-assured, but
not any more
Now you are dead.
Now you are eighty-four dead white men,
and there is nothing
to be so self-assured about,
Is there?

Who were you?
Who were you when you were alive?
Not now that you are dead,
because now that you are dead,
You are nothing.
But who were you?

Debating Union Presidents?
Everyone used to listen to you.
But not any more.
Now no one does,
Because now you are dead.

probably not all of you are dead.
Some of you are from the 1970s.
And it is statistically improbable for you to all have had fatal car accidents.

I see you
1970s white men
staring down at me
in your fur-lined gowns
and assorted neck ties.

So self-assured
with your thick hair
and large moustaches.

But now those fashions are dead.
Now the fashions you grew on your own face are dead.
And there is nothing to be so self-assured about, is there?

Now you are probably bald,
and whilst you still carry around
the self-assurance of your
Historically privileged status
as a white man who is not dead,

you have already begun to die inside,
and you know it.

not all of you are 1970s white men.
One of you is a 1970s black man.
At least I think it’s the 1970s from the shape of your glasses.
It’s hard to tell because the plaque has fallen off.

I see you,
Probably 1970s black man,
in your fur-lined gown and tie.
No one knows your name
because your plaque has fallen off.
No one has bothered to replace it.
For all I know,
You’re probably as dead as the rest of them.


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