I’ve always hated Henry, stared out
his pompous self-important portrait
in Liverpool’s Walker, him tarted up
like a wedding cake encrusted with icing,
me in my Clark’s sandals and ankle socks
knowing him for Monster.
The years haven’t changed my stance
nor his: legs wide apart, too skinny
for his enormous torso, his face
meaty as a side of beef. Imagine being
Master of the Stool, having to wipe
that gargantuan arse.
I know now how he ordered churches
trashed so he could swell his coffers,
how he threw wives away like ratty furs
took everything he wanted as his right,
trampled over other’s lives and loves.
Think of that face
glancing towards Tower Green, as Anne
prepared to bare her innocent neck,
then turning away, to go and marry Jane.
Hans Holbein saw his narrowed eyes,
pretended to flatter that overblown ego,
got away with it.
ANGELA TOPPING is the author of seven full collections and three pamphlets. Her poems have won prizes and been included in over 60 anthologies. Work has appeared in a range of journals over the years, and she has also edited several poetry publications. Her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She works as a freelance poet.