Sunday, 23 September 2012


In order to distract me, my mother
sent me on an Archeology Week.
We lived in tents on the downs, 
and walked over to the site
every morning. It was an old dewpond.

There was a boy there called Charlie.
He was the first boy I had really met.
I was too shy to go to the pub,
but I hung around the camp every night
waiting for him to come back.

He took no notice of me at first,
but one night the two of us
were on Washing-Up together.
I was dressed in a black jersey
and black drainpipes, I remember.

You in mourning? he said.
He didn't know I was
one of the first beatniks.
He put a drying-up cloth
over my head and kissed me

through the linen Breeds Of Dogs.
I love you, Charlie I said.
Later, my mother blamed herself
for what had happened. The Romans
didn't even interest her,  she said.

Selima Hill

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


This is the one song everyone
would like to learn; the song 
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can't remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don't enjoy it here 
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mystical

with these two feathery maniacs.
I don't enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer, This song

is a cry for help. Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
is is a boring song
but it works every time.

Margaret Atwood

Friday, 14 September 2012


If you're anxious for to shine in the high aesthetic line as a man of culture rare,
You must get up all the germs of the transcendental terms, and plant them everywhere.
You must lie upon the daisies and discourse in novel phrases of your complicated state of mind.
The meaning doesn't matter if it's only idle chatter of a transcendental kind.
And every one will say,
As you walk your mystic way,
'If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me,
Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!'

Be eloquent in praise of the very dull old days which have long since passed away,
And convince 'em, if you can, that the reign of good Queen Anne was Culture's palmiest day.
Of course you will pooh-pooh whatever's fresh and new, and declare it's crude and mean,
For Art stopped short in the cultivated court of the Empress Josephine.
And every one will say,
As you walk your mystic way,
'If that's not good enough for him which is good enough for me,
Why, what a very cultivated kind of youth this kind of youth must be!'

Then a sentimental passion of a vegetable fashion must excite your languid spleen,
an attachment a la Plato for a bashful young potato, or a not-too-French French bean!
Though the Philistines may jostle, you will rank as an apostle in the high aesthetic band,
If you walk down Piccadilly with a poppy or a lily in your mediaeval hand.
And every one will say
As you walk your flowery way,
'If he's content with a vegetable love which would certainly not suit me,
Why, what a most particularly pure young man this pure young man must be!'

W.S. Gilbert

PS: It's even better when sung to Sullivan's tune.

Monday, 10 September 2012


All she ever thinks about are house-plants.
She talks to them and tends them every day.
And she says, 'Don't hurt their feelings. Give them
Love. In all your dealings with them,
Treat them in a tender, human way.'

'Certainly, my dear,' he says. 'OK.
Human, eh?'

But the house-plants do not seem to want to play.

They are stooping, they are drooping,
They are kneeling in their clay;
They are flaking, they are moulting,
Turning yellow, turning grey,
And they look . . . . . well, quite revolting
As they sigh and fade away.

So after she has left the house he gets them
And he sets them in a line against the wall.
And I cannot say he cossets them or pets them -
No, he doesn't sympathise with them at all.
Is he tender? Is he human? Not a bit.
No, to each of them in turn he says: 'You twit!'

You're a
Rotten little skiver,
Cost a fiver,
Earn your keep!

You're a
Dirty little drop-out!
You're a cop-out!
You're a creep!

You're a
Mangy little whinger!
You're a cringer!
Son, it's true -

I have justbin
to the dustbin
Where there's better men than you!

Get that stem back!

Pull your weight!

Stick your leaves out!


And, strange to say, the plants cooperate.
So when she comes back home and finds them glowing,
Green and healthy, everyone a king,
She says, 'It's tenderness that gets them growing!
How strange the change a little love can bring!

'Oh yes,' he says. 'Not half. Right. Love's the thing.'

Kit Wright

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


He thought he saw an Elephant,
    That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
    A letter from his wife.
'At length I realise,' he said,
    'The bitterness of Life!'

He thought he saw a Buffalo
    Upon the chimney-piece:
He looked again, and found it was
    His Sister's Husband's Niece.
'Unless you leave this house,' he said,
    'I'll send for the Police!'

He thought he saw a Rattlesnake
    That questioned him in Greek:
He looked again, and found it was
    The Middle of Next Week.
'The one thing I regret,' he said,
    'Is that it cannot speak!'

He thought he saw a Banker's Clerk
    Descending from the bus:
He looked again, and found it was
    A Hippopotamus.
'If this should stay to dine,' he said,
    'There won't be much for us!'

He thought he saw a Kangaroo
    That worked a coffee-mill:
He looked again, and found it was
    A Vegetable-Pill.
'Were I to swallow this,' he said,
    'I should be very ill!'

He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four
    That stood beside his bed:
He looked again, and found it was
    A Bear without a Head.
'Poor thing,' he said, 'poor silly thing!
    It's waiting to be fed!'

He thought he saw an Albatross
    That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
    A Penny-Postage Stamp.
'You'd best be getting home,' he said:
    'The nights are very damp!'

He thought he saw a Garden-Door
    That opened with a key:
He looked again, and found it was
    A Double Rule of Three:
'And all its mystery,' he said,
    'Is clear as day to me!'

He thought he saw a Argument
    That proved he was the Pope:
He looked again, and found it was
    A Bar of Mottled Soap.
'A fact so dread,' he faintly said,
    'Extinguishes all hope!'

Lewis Carroll

In case anyone is wondering what has happened to the usually so serious tone of Friko's poetry blog since the long August break, I have decided to stay with humorous verse for a bit.

Saturday, 1 September 2012


The popcorn is greasy, and I forgot to bring a Kleenex.
A pill that's a bomb inside the stomach of a man inside

The Embassy blows up. Eructations of flame, luxurious
cauliflowers giganticize into motion. The entire 29-ft.

screen is orange, is crackling flesh and brick bursting,
blackening, smithereened. I unwrap a Dentyne and, while

jouncing my teeth in rubber tongue-smarting clove, try
with the 2-inch wide paper to blot butter off my fingers.

A bubble-bath, room-sized, in which 14 girls, delectable,
and sexless, twist-topped Creamy Freezes (their blond,

red, brown, pinkish, lavender or silver wiglets all
screwed that high, and varnished), scrub-tickle a lone

male, whose chest has just the right amount and distribution
of curly hair. He's nervously pretending to defend

his modesty. His crotch, below the waterline, is also
below the frame - but unsubmerged all 28 slick foamy boobs.

Their make-up fails to let the girls look naked. Caterpillar
lashes, black and thick, lush lips glossed pink like

the gum I pop and chew, contact lenses on the eyes that are
mostly blue, they're nose-perfect replicas of each other.

I've got most of the grease off and onto this little square
of paper. I'm folding it now, making creases with my nails.

May Swenson