Ah, those aristos, who never worked a day,
Just sit back and wait for Papa to pass away.
While armies of servants and hard-working-clarsses
Would feed their fat faces and wipe their fat arses,
And loans would be brokered to fund wars of nations,
While riches would pour in from ex-slave plantations.
Ah, those aristos, who feasted on our sweat,
Those patrons of the arts, that lavish social set –
With artists and craftsmen and tailors and tours,
And houses and horses and operas and balls.
They almost were worth it, their style could defend it –
They didn’t deserve it, but knew how to spend it.
Usually I resist any attempt to rhyme ‘class’ with ‘arse’, but this poem was written in with a definite accent in ear. ‘Papa’ of course should be pronounced with its stress on the second syllable. This is an early poem, but I’ve started to preach a little less and let a little satire slip in.
I could lie here for hours. Just locked-in, alone, with my own private lake, I soak in the warmth as I soak out the ache, Massage my fingers through lathering cream, And breathe in the salts with the tickle’ing steam. And I lie. Eyes closed I lie. And let wash away all that pressure and bile. Go on without me, at least for a while.
I always imagine a bath is the perfect place to find inspiration, but I think the brevity of this poem shows how little I do. I’m more likely to find forty winks, and nothing wrong with that. Anyway, any good lines I do compose will be forgotten by the time I’m dry.
They are the graves and the stats and the mothers And citizens living where forces are tasked – Who, we are told, so willingly suffer, And cheer on our conflict (though never get asked). Yet those who are calling for vengeance and blood – Beseeching the need for the selflessly lying Of lives-on-the-line so to hold back the flood – They’re never the ones who always end dying.
They are the facts and the doubts and worries, The objective news and the cooler-held heads – It feels like they’re all swept away in the hurry, To rumour and jingo and front-page spreads. Yet those who are calling for boots on the ground – They’re des’prate for war, just to send the bombs flying – But we can ignore them, and talk ourselves down, And all be the ones who never end dying.
I think it was written at the time of the Iraq war, and has aged as badly as the decision to fight. This now sounds very preachy – it’s still a trap I fall into when I’m angry and it rarely works. At least yhe second verse attempts to give it a bit of optomism.
Enjambment – it’s a nasty little habit That’s likely to derail the locomotion of your meter – For lines that run-away are sure to rabbit, So prose may ride expresses, but the slow train sounds the sweeter.
Yet another poem about poetry, but at least it’s short. I’ve always been puzzled by where modern poets choose to break their lines, particularly as when they read it out, there’s often no pause whatsoever between the lines. The verb ‘to rabbit’ is used here in its cockney sense meaning to chatter – nothing to do with running, except the mouth.
Reverend, Reverend, writer of the tales:
Murder, guilt and passionlust, herringful and slick.
Popular and idolised, blessèd are your sales,
Though the critics pan you off as “slight” and “formulaic”.
Reverend, Reverend, writes another tale:
Murder, guilt and passionlust, once more with a twist –
The victim here is Jesus Christ, crucified, impaled.
Yet we know the killer has to be the one who kissed.
That’s okay, the Reverend is not asking whodunnit,
He tells it straight and poignant; for kudos, not for wealth.
Yet at the Ascension, so a final twist is sprung:
It turns out in Heaven waits old Lucifer himself.
“Just how can a Christian priest write of such a blasphemy ?”
Ask his readers and his bishop, still not comprehending.
“All because I do believe the Lord will yet forgive me,
(And I’d surely sell my soul for fiendish-good twist ending.)”
I feel the joke in this one is rather laboured, as are some of the rhymes. Incidentally, the Bible contains one of the first locked-room mysteries in literature in the Book of Daniel (or at least in the versions that include the apocraphal additions including Bel & The Dragon). And if you’re interested, the most common fish in the Sea of Galilee was the tilapia.
Following on from the recently underwhelming week of early tat, and because I want to reach my third birthday next May before the barrel is dry and the cupboard is scraped, I’m once again fishing around in the week-old bag of lettuce leaves for the ones that not quite too-far gone – believe me, there are others in there which are nothing but liquid sludge.
These ones are just about presentable, especially after a few nips and tucks with the blue pencil.
A minister’s office. There is a knock and the Professor enters.
Minister Ah, professor, good afternoon. It’s really very good of you to see me quite so soon.
Professor Oh, no trouble, Minister, no trouble at all. I came the very minute that I first received your call
Minister Then let me bring you up to speed the problem facing here: Something has been happening, and something very queer. Something has affected quite the very way we speak, It’s spread across the nation within only half a week, It’s very hard to spot, of course, which makes it all the worse – But each and ev’ry citizen has started talking verse.
Professor But surely you don’t mean…
Minister Alas, I rather mean I do.
Professor But what then made you realise ?
Minister (on intercom) Ah, Bridget, tea for two. (to Professor) Oh, little things, just nagging doubts.
Professor You thought you had some pests ?
Minister We wanted to be certain, so we ran a batch of tests. We’ve got our finest boffins out there looking for the source.
Professor But why then did you turn to me ?
Minister It’s time to alter course. We need to find an antidote, we really can’t delay. And that is why I called you in…
Bridget (entering) We’re out of Earl Grey.
Minister Well never mind, well never mind, I’m sure this shall suffice.
Professor I really can’t imagine I could give you sound advice.
Minister But you’re our finest scholar, you must surely have some clue ?
Professor Nothing at the moment, I’m afraid.
Minister One lump, or two ?
Professor But are you really certain that we’re talking all in rhymes ? There hasn’t been a mention in the Telegraph or Times.
Minister We’ve had to keep it hush-hush so as not to cause a panic. Would you like a ginger-nut ? Don’t worry, they’re organic. Of course, it isn’t fatal – no, the country’s not entombed – It’s just so very curious…
Professor We’re doomed, by God, we’re doomed !
Minister Now not to be alarmist, or to overstate things grossly, You’d never even know it’s there unless you listen closely To the steady pitter-patter in the rhythm of each sentence…
Professor We’re doomed, I say ! We must all pray, and beg the Lord’s repentance.
Minister Professor ! Pull yourself together ! I need you now to think; There must be something, anything, to save us from the brink ?
Professor Wait ! There may be something…the problem is systemic.
Minister The problem is we’ve staring at a bloody epidemic !
Professor The problem is within the brain and its linguistic centre Now, usually it’s very good at recognising…
Bridget enters and clears the tea things.
Professor …the diff’rences in how we speak, but something has confused it
Bridget Shall I clear the paper, too ?
Minister I haven’t yet perused it.
Professor We need to shake it up again, with something quite sublime: By ending ev’ry sentence with a word that doesn’t rhyme ! Now ev’ryone’s aware that there is nothing rhymes with orange…
Bridget I’ve contacted the builders to come and fix the door hinge.
Professor Another word that comes to mind – there’s none to find with chimney.
Bridget That Watkins tries to feel my legs – he said I had a trim knee.
Professor There must be more, there must be more – I’m sure we’re safe with plinth.
Bridget That gift I need to buy your son – was it guitar or synth ? I’ve called the milliners – your wife has found her trilby small. Will there be something else ?
Minister No thanks, I think that will be all.
Professor There’s must be more examples, such as anxious, purple, month…
Minister No rhyme, say you ? That can’t be true ! Why, surely there is… There is… Hah ! You’ve done it ! I’ve stopped rhyming. How can I ever thank you professor ? Your suggestion will save the country. Finally, we can stop the rhyme.
Ev’ry staircase runs in two directions, Even MC Escher’s – Join midway – on a landing, say, And we all must make selections – Oh, the pressure ! Do we climb for the sky through the oculus eye ? Or sink in the bowel of the gravity well ? Perhaps it’s endless trip round a Mobius strip… Seems like Jacob’s dreams have gone to town, As the stairs go up, but the stairs go down – Descend today, and tomorrow we rise, Or labour now for a future of ease. Up is always hard on our thighs, And down is hard on our knees.
Ev’ry, dammit, ev’ry time My ev’ry sports a ’postrophe, You howl and howl my spelling crime As def’nit’ly catostrophe. But still they pop extr’ordin’ry, Dishon’rab’ly, inord’nat’ly, By lis’ning out for how it’s said When diff’rently from how it’s read. So speech shall speak, and I’ll lit’rature obey – Just deal with it, you soph’mores – cos the commas stay !