by Audrey Theodosia Bryant
from Signs of the Times No. 26 - Jul 2007

The Last Laugh

Did the funnybone survive among the fittest?

Is laughter evolution at is best?

Are the subleties of humour

Out of gut or skull or femur,

Are they dominant, recessive or repressed?


Did our laughter have to wait for the banana?

Which came first, pomposity or peel?

Was it just a little slip

Or an elephantine blip

That emerged in human genes as jest-appeal?


Did the caves contain the comics of pre-history?

Did early woman laugh until she cried?

Or did God originate the joke

By making ‘none so queer as folk’

And Adam’s apple incompatible with pride?


As the earth pursues its orbit to oblivion

And greed devours our green and pleasant land,

Will the humourless be fooled

To see their market pulled

From beneath the only soles they understand?


When the economic gods dissolve and wither

In the gases of the engines of their dreams,

Will the stars all laugh aloud

To see how fallen are the proud?

Will God smile as he files the might-have-beens?

Methinks Malengo Doth Protest Too Much

I’ve loved the Church of England from its arms,

The font my first and friendly view of life

Beyond a home of clergy-centred calm

Amid a world (I later learned) of strife.

Sundays to church, the creed and Cranmer’s prayers

That brought such faith and order to my cares.


Missionary stories filled my mind,

Pictures of tribal lands and vicar’s wives

With wide-eyed children round them, and the kind

Of daughter churches, Christian homes and lives

Learnt from our own, by our own shepherds led

With native sons’ vocations credited.


An African perspective soon emerged

Absorbing ancient values, ancient views;

A mother cocoanut whose milk had surged

Into the life of new-born churches whose

Native kings and tribal chiefs and shamans wise

Marked, learned, digested and revised.


Such milk was rich and good, they heard the call

And many were ordained and rose to lead

And gave their Christian service, but not all,

Some felt an ancient grandeur and a need

To grasp the reins of power and to keep

A territorial right over who led their sheep.


One bold archbishop, openly breaking ranks,

Due process and the law he soon defied,

Put his own people up (with little thanks),

The congregation’s legal choice denied

And travelled far and loudly blamed ‘the rich’;

Methinks Malengo doth protest too much.