Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Eve is madly in love with Hugh
And Hugh is keen on Jim.
Charles is in love with very few
And few are in love with him.

Myra sits typing notes of love
With romantic pianist's fingers,
Dick turns his eyes to the heavens above
Where Fran's divine perfume lingers.

Nicky is rolling eyes and tits
And flaunting her wiggly walk.
Everybody is thrilled to bits
by Clive's suggestive talk.

Sex suppressed will go berserk,
But it keeps us all alive.
It's a wonderful change from wives and work,
And it ends at half past five.

Gavin Ewart

Unless the mood takes me, or I receive requests to the contrary, enough now of levity, back to the serious matter of poetry in September. 

Sunday, 28 August 2011


Paddle Steamer 'Rheinland', passing the Loreley Rock.

On, on the vessel steals;
Round go the paddle-wheels,
And now the tourist feels
As he should;
For king-like rolls the Rhine, 
And the scenery's divine,
And the victuals and the wine
Rather good.

From every crag we pass'll
Rise up some hoar old castle;
The hanging fir-groves tassel
Every slope:
And the vine her lithe arm stretches
Over peasants singing catches -
And you'll make no end of sketches,
I should hope.

We've a nun here (called Thérèse),
Two couriers out of place,
One Yankee with a face
Like a ferret's;
And three youths in scarlet caps
Drinking chocolate and schnapps -
A diet which perhaps
Has its merits.

And day again declines;
In shadow sleep the vines,
And the last ray through the pines
Feebly glows,
Then sinks behind yon ridge;
And the usual evening midge
Is settling on the bridge
Of my nose.

And keen's the air and cold,
And the sheep are in the fold,
And Night walks sable-stoled
Through the trees;
And on the silent river
The floating starbeams quiver; -
And now the saints deliver
Us from fleas.

C.S. Calverley

Poet and Wit

C.S. Calverley was the literary father of what has been called the "university school of humour".

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Batman, big shot, when you gave the order 
to grow up, then let me loose to wander
leeward, freely through the wild blue yonder
as you liked to say, or ditched me, rather,
in the gutter . . . . well, I turned the corner.
Now I've scotched that 'he was like a father
to me' rumour, sacked it, blown the cover
on that 'he was like an elder brother' 
story, let the cat out on that caper
with the married woman, how you took her 
downtown on expenses in the motor.
Holy robin-redbreast-nest-egg-shocker!
Holy roll-me-over-in-the-clover,
I'm not playing ball-boy any longer
Batman, now I've doffed that off-the-shoulder
Sherwood-Forest-green and scarlet number
for a pair of jeans and crew-neck jumper;
now I'm taller, harder, stronger, older,
Batman, it makes a marvellous picture:
you without a shadow, stewing over
chicken giblets in the pressure cooker,
next to nothing in the walk-in larder,
Punching the palm of your hand all winter,
you baby, now I'm the real boy wonder.

Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage comments:

"It gave me great pleasure taking a big, swanky character like Batman and placing him in a little terraced house in West Yorkshire. See how he liked it. I suppose the poem is about power dynamics: father/son, employer/employee, funny guy/straight man, etc. Bravado fuelled by bitterness is the tone of voice I was hoping to catch."

Sunday, 21 August 2011


Auguste Renoir - La Source

He is quite captive to the Lady of the Well-Spring,
Who will rescue him?
Into the French drawing-room the afternoon sun shone
And as the French ladies laughed their white faces
Barred by the balcony shadows seemed to make grimaces.
In a far corner of the room
Sat the English child Joan
As far away as she could get but without exasperation
Only to be freed from the difficulty of conversation.
'Quite captive to the lady of the Well-Spring
Who will rescue him?'
Now I have an excuse to go
Said Joan, and walked out of the window
Down the iron staircase and along the path
And then she began to run through the tall wet grass.
Overhead the hot sun slanting
Fell on Joan as she ran through the field panting,
Faster faster uphill she goes hoping
That as the ground goes steeply sloping
She will find the well-spring. Into a little wood
She runs, the branches catching at her feet draw blood
And there is a sound of piping screaming croaking clacking
As the birds of the wood rise chattering.
And now as she runs is the bicker
Of a stream growing narrower in a trickle
And a splash and a flinging, it is water springing.
Now with her feet in deep moss Joan stands looking
Where on a bank a great white lady is lying
A fair smooth lady whose stomach swelling
Full breasts fine waist and long legs tapering
Are shadowed with grass-green streaks. The lady smiles
Lying naked. The sun stealing
Through the branches, her canopies, glorifies
The beautiful rich fat lady where she lies.
Never before in history
In a place so green and watery
Has lady's flesh and so divine a lady's as this is
With just such an admiring look as Joan's met with.
'Quite captive to the Lady of the Well-Spring?'
What nonsense, it is a thing
French ladies would say
In sophisticated conversation on a warm day.
I do not wish to rescue him, blurts Joan,
The Lady lolls, do you wish to go home?
No, says Joan, I should like to live
Here. Right, says the lady, you are my captive.
The child Joan fully sees the beauty her eye embraces.
Do not think of her as one who loses.

Stevie Smith
Poet and Novelist

Friday, 12 August 2011


Image via shutterstock

He jumped off the box-car
In Eastbourne, the beast born
In him was too hungry to hide;

His neck in grief's grommet,
He groaned through his vomit
At the churn
And the yearn
At the turn of the tide.

He headed him soon
For a sad-lit saloon
In back of the edge of the strand,
Where a man almost ended
Sat down and extended

His speckled,
And cuckolded

Cried, The wind broke my marriage in two.
Clean through the bones of it,
Christ how it blew!
I got no tomorrow
And sorrow
Is tough to rescind;
So, forgive me if I should break wind, son,
Forgive me
If I should break wind.

At this the bartender
Addressed the agenda,
A dish-cloth kept dabbing his eye,
Said, Pardon intrusion
Upon your effusion
Of loss but none wooed it
Or rued it
As I.

For after the eve of Yvonne,
My God, how it hurts now the woman has gone!
Heart-sick as a dog,
I roll on like a log
Down the roaring black river
Where once sailed
A swan.

Then the dog on the floor,
Who'd not spoken before,
Growled, Ain't it the truth you guys said?
I may be a son-
Of-a-bitch but that bitch

Was my Sun
And she dumped me,
The bitch did,
For dead.

So three lonely guys in the night and a hound
Drank up, and they headed them out to the Sound,
Threw up, then they threw themselves
In and they

O dee-o-dayee

Kit Wright
b. 1944

Monday, 8 August 2011



 please, this dish of ratatouille.
Neither will it invade Afghanistan
or boycott the Olympic Games in a huff.
It likes the paintings of Raoul Dufy,
It feeds the playboy and the working man.
Of wine and sun it cannot get enough. 
It has no enemies, no, not even
Salade Niçoise or phoney recipes,
Not Leonid Brezhnev, no, not Ronald Reagan.
It is the fruits of earth, this ratatouille,
And it has many friends, including me.
Come lovers of ratatouille, and unite!


It is a sort of dream, which coincides
With the pacific relaxations called
Preferred Reality. Men who forget
Lovingly chopped up cloves of ail, who scorn 
The job of slicing two good peppers thinly,
Then two large onions and six aubergines -
Those long, impassioned and imperial purples -
Which, with six courgettes you sift with salt
And cover with a plate for one round hour;
Or men who do no care to know about
The eight ripe pommes d'amour their wives have need of,
Preparing ratatouille, who give no thought to

The cup of olive oil that's heated in
their heaviest pan, or onions, fried with garlic
For five observant minutes, before they add
Aubergines, courgettes, peppers, tomatoes;
Or men who give no thought to what their wives
Are thinking as they stand beside their stoves
When seasoning is sprinkled on, before 
A bouquet garni is dropped in - these men
Invade Afghanistan, boycott the Games,
Call off their fixtures and prepare for war.


Cook for one hour, and then serve hot or cold.
Eat it, for preference, under the sun,
But, if you are Northern, you may eat
Your ratatouille imagining Provence.
Believe me, it goes well with everything,
As love does, as peace does, as summers do
Or any other season, as a lifetime does.
Acquire then, for yourselves, ingredients;
Prepare this stew of love, and ask for more.
Quick, before it is too late. Bon appétit!

Douglas Dunn
b. 1942
Poet, Academic, Critic

Friday, 5 August 2011


The Hangover
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1861-1904
French Painter, Printer, Draughtsman and Illustrator

Song Of A Night-Club Proprietress

I walked into the night-club in the morning;
There was kummel on the handle of the door.
The ashtrays were unemptied,
The cleaning unattempted,
And a squashed tomato sandwich on the floor.

I pulled aside the thick magenta curtains
- Regency, so Regency, my dear -
And a host of little spiders
Ran a race across the ciders
To a box of baby 'pollies by the beer.

Oh sun upon the summer-going by-pass
Where everything is speeding to the sea,
And wonder beyond wonder
That here where lorries thunder
The sun should ever percolate to me.

When Boris used to call in his Sedanca,
When Teddy took me down to his estate
When my nose excited passion,
When my clothes were in the fashion,
When my beaux were never cross if I was late,

There was sun enough for lazing upon beaches,
There was fun enough for far into the night,
But I'm dying now and done for,
What on earth was all the fun for?
For I'm old and ill and terrified and tight.

John Betjeman
"Poet and Hack"

I have decided to lighten the tone of my August Selection.
There will be more Light Verse during the Holiday Month.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


Language is the house with lamplight in its windows,
visible across fields. Approaching, you can hear
music; closer, smell
soup, bay leaves, bread - a meal for anyone
who has only his tongue left.

It's a country; home, family;
abandoned, burned down; whole lines dead, unmarried.
For those who can't read their way in the streets,
or in the gestures and faces of strangers,
language is the house to run to;
in wild nights, chased by dogs and other sounds,
when you've been lost a long time,
when you have no other place.

There are nights in the forest of words
when I panic, every step into thicker darkness,
the only way out to write myself into a clearing,
which is silence.

Nights in the forest of words
when I'm afraid we won't hear each other
over clattering branches, over
both our voices calling.

In winter, in the hour
when the sun runs liquid then freezes,
caught in the mantilla of empty trees;
when my heart listens
through the cold stethoscope of fear,
your voice in my head reminds me
what the light teaches.
Slowly you translate fear into love,
the way the moon's blood is the sea.

Anne Michaels
Canadian Poet and Novelist
b. 1958