Poetry is ev’rywhere,
Ev’ry day has rhymes to share,
Ev’ry one has verses lurking,
Ev’ry chance, the words are working,
Headstones whisper epitaphs,
Letters to the Telegraph,
Dylan lyrics, hip-hop crew,
Aides-memoire and billets-doux,
Nurs’ry rhymes and wishing wells,
Playground chants and magic spells,
Proverbs old and riddles vexed
Advertising copy text,
Couplets quoted from the Bards,
Purple prose and greetings cards,
Epigrams and tetrastichs,
Cockney slang and limericks,
Lear, Milne and Tennyson,
Lennon, Carroll, Chesterton,
Milligan and De La Mare,
Poetry is ev’rywhere.
To and fro and fro and to –
A dragonfly is zagging-by,
His body shiny-new.
Ready for the slaughter,
With his goggles on and paint-job dry –
For three years, underwater,
He has somehow learned to fly.
A fighter jet, a microlight,
With wings of cellophane –
Drunk yet nimble in his flight,
He circles round, and round again.
A regal blur, a day-glow streak,
Who never rests from his deploy –
But when he does, he’s plastic-sleek:
This summer’s latest toy.
I meet him, though, in hot July,
Some distance from the river bank.
So jealous in his patch of sky,
He watches for a rival’s flank –
But they won’t come, and neither will
The ladies that he’s longing for.
So here he is, patrolling still:
A soldier who’s misplaced his war.
There in the middle of my cheeks,
I swear – I bear the mark of freaks !
These cavities my face must wear
Just undermine my steely stare –
These hollow hickeys suck the chic
From out my compromised physique.
Oh, why must I be cursed to share
The pinched-in dimples of the meek ?
I’d sooner acne, pox or freckles
Than these intermittent craters –
Hardly think my lips need echoes
Just to show my cheeks are traitors.
But such is their two-faced work
That turns a smile into a smirk.
Alas, they’re written in my cells –
The cheesiest of tells.
Why on me and not my brother,
Nor my cousins, aunts or nieces ?
But the worst is how my mother
Loves to chub my surplus creases.
Hardly wonder all that froth
Would drive my teenage self to goth.
I felt far safer with a frown
When their depressions could not bring me down.
I always promised that I wouldn’t let them show,
Or that I’d let my whiskers grow.
But if you like to see such flam on me
Feel free – but never tell me so !
I guess we’re wrinkled when we’re born,
Or else that’s how my face has worn.
I guess I should maintain a scowl,
Or slather on the botox with a trowel.
Dented, vented, wrecked and rent
Is really not my style –
I guess this must be what is meant
When faces crack a smile.
Did I once gurn on a change of breeze
To trap my grin within parentheses ?
I wish my apple cheeks were fruitless
From this taint of enforced cuteness.
The rain, it rains like rainy rain,
The time, it ticks so slow.
It soaks the garden, soaks the lane,
It soaks the overflow
Won’t it ever shine again ?
Won’t it ever go ?
We curse these clouds we undergo,
We curse this ever-rain;
But still the gullies rush and flow
And wash the boggy lane.
Oh, must the day creep by so slow,
And with so little gain ?
We check the window once again,
We watch the drops that flow.
Perhaps the clouds are bored of rain,
Have somewhere else to go ?
Check the garden, check the lane –
Not too quick. Be slow.
It hasn’t yet begun to slow,
It’s coming hard again.
It should’ve stopped an age ago,
But still we get the rain.
So down to earth the clouds all flow
Upon the roof and lane.
We long to be upon the lane
Where blooms the indigo,
We long the garden to regain
Between the may and sloe.
Instead, the clouds forever reign,
Like icebergs in a floe.
So round and round our thought must flow:
The clouds. The time. The lane.
And like the day, they crawl so slow,
As round they crawl again.
They’re stuck with us, nowhere to go –
And still comes down the rain.
A sestina, whereby the six endwords are repeated each verse in a different order. Tradition also requires a seventh mini-verse, or envoy, to round things off, but I#ve never seen the point.
Abbey – a building with arches and towers;
And also a girl who fidgets and glowers.
Abbey – a building with gargoyles and gables;
And also a girl who hides under tables.
Abbey – a building with vaulting and chapels;
And also a girl who giggles and grapples.
Abbey – a building with windows and doorways;
And also a girl who’s curious, all ways.
I once knew a girl
Who wasn’t so old,
Who went by the name of Pandora;
Her hair was a-twirl,
And her jawline was bold,
And her countenance jarred all who saw her.
For she was a child with orders to follow –
She practised today to be ready tomorrow.
So stern was her stare
As she marched round about,
And no-one had better ignore her.
She never would share
What protruded her pout
Or what epical labours now chore her.
For she was a child with burdens to carry –
She hefted them high, for she’d no time to tarry.
She cradled a box
With she firmly kept shut,
And she stroked it to sometimes assure her.
Her all-weather socks
Were so often a-strut
With that cask always ported before her.
For she was a child with secrets to ferry –
She warded them all, be they downcast or merry.
When asked who had asked,
Who requested her quest,
She might answer Mary or Flora;
And endlessly tasked
With this hallowed behest,
Her mission e’er onwardly bore her.
For she was a child with futures to wonder –
She gathered them up with the stars and the thunder.
For all our tappy-typey lives,
For all the keyboards we must pound,
Still ev’ry Summer there survives
A world of scritchy-scratchy sound:
Ev’ry Summer, ev’ry school,
The wriggly-ragged spiders rule !
It seems we do not think exams
Are punishment enough –
Who cares if they know volts from grams,
Or pantaloons from ruffs ?
Their future jobs lie in the grip
Of under-pressure penmanship !
You know, I reckon if we’re honest,
Few of us could truly claim
Our efforts wouldn’t look the same.
For all they pressed upon us
Their italic script or copperplate,
Calligraphy was not our fate.
To all the pupils suffering
From writer’s cramp and knuckles rapped,
Your talents ever under-tapped –
At least you’re not alone.
To all ex-pupils struggle‘ing
With inky hands that biros give,
Our meanings lost in hieroglyphs –
It’s time that we atone:
It’s keymanship that should be taught,
So crisp upon the pristine page,
With fingers fast as any thought –
It’s time to write the modern age !
For all that pens have served us well,
Let’s end their scribbly-scrawly hell –