DAY SIXTY – Brian Johnstone

The Way It’s Done

The old boys are back, their masters
done up in gowns. Uniforms intact,

they throng the hallowed halls, while
stooped on the stage, head bowed

by the signs of age, matron reads out
the rules. This is the rub: with placemen

in place, seats barely vacated
are taken again, resumed by her grace.

And the new bugs slapped back
for presuming to clap, provoking

the head boy’s ire. No, we’ll not
hear the last of that: caught in the act,

they have only themselves to blame.
Back in the quad, the top dogs are ever

the same. Throwing their weight about,
shouting the odds. They’re only playing

the game. This is the way it’s done,
they all say. The argument stops here.



Brian Johnstone is a Scottish poet, writer and performer whose work has appeared throughout Scotland, elsewhere in the UK, in North America and Europe. He has published six collections, most recently Dry Stone Work (Arc, 2014). In 2015 his work appeared on the UK’s Poetry Archive website. His poems have been translated into over a dozen languages; in 2009 Terra Incognita, a chapbook in Italian translation, was published by L’Officina (Vicenza). A founder and former Director of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, he has appeared at various poetry festivals, from Macedonia to Nicaragua, and at numerous venues across the UK. His website is 


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