poems by Philip Larkin

September 15, 2006

Being a simple fellow myself I like poems that can, at least on one level, be easily understood. I also like them to say something- i have no time for the sort of John Masefield Cargoes type of poem. If I want to read about trains I’ll look up a railway timetable. Here are some of Phlip Larkin’s poems I like.

When First We Faced, And Touching Showed

When first we faced, and touching showed
How well we knew the early moves,
Behind the moonlight and the frost,
The excitement and the gratitude,
There stood how much our meeting owed
To other meetings, other loves.

The decades of a different life
That opened past your inch-close eyes
Belonged to others, lavished, lost;
Nor could I hold you hard enough
To call my years of hunger-strife
Back for your mouth to colonise.

Admitted: and the pain is real.
But when did love not try to change
The world back to itself–no cost,
No past, no people else at all–
Only what meeting made us feel,
So new, and gentle-sharp, and strange?

Philip Larkin
Love, We Must Part Now

Love, we must part now: do not let it be
Calamitious and bitter. In the past
There has been too much moonlight and self-pity:
Let us have done with it: for now at last
Never has sun more boldly paced the sky,
Never were hearts more eager to be free,
To kick down worlds, lash forests; you and I
No longer hold them; we are husks, that see
The grain going forward to a different use.

There is regret. Always, there is regret.
But it is better that our lives unloose,
As two tall ships, wind-mastered, wet with light,
Break from an estuary with their courses set,
And waving part, and waving drop from sight.

Vers De Société
Philip Larkin

My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps
To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps
You’d care to join us? In a pig’s arse, friend.
Day comes to an end.
The gas fire breathes, the trees are darkly swayed.
And so Dear Warlock-Williams: I’m afraid–

Funny how hard it is to be alone.
I could spend half my evenings, if I wanted,
Holding a glass of washing sherry, canted
Over to catch the drivel of some bitch
Who’s read nothing but Which;
Just think of all the spare time that has flown

Straight into nothingness by being filled
With forks and faces, rather than repaid
Under a lamp, hearing the noise of wind,
And looking out to see the moon thinned
To an air-sharpened blade.
A life, and yet how sternly it’s instilled

All solitude is selfish. No one now
Believes the hermit with his gown and dish
Talking to God (who’s gone too); the big wish
Is to have people nice to you, which means
Doing it back somehow.
Virtue is social. Are, then, these routines

Playing at goodness, like going to church?
Something that bores us, something we don’t do well
(Asking that ass about his fool research)
But try to feel, because, however crudely,
It shows us what should be?
Too subtle, that. Too decent, too. Oh hell,

Only the young can be alone freely.
The time is shorter now for company,
And sitting by a lamp more often brings
Not peace, but other things.
Beyond the light stand failure and remorse
Whispering Dear Warlock-Williams: Why, of course–

Grief
Philip Larkin

If grief could burn out
Like a sunken coal
The heart would rest quiet
The unrent soul
Be as still as a veil
But I have watched all night

The fire grow silent
The grey ash soft
And I stir the stubborn flint
The flames have left
And the bereft
Heart lies impotent

Counting
Philip Larkin

Thinking in terms of one
Is easily done—
One room, one bed, one chair,
One person there,
Makes perfect sense; one set
Of wishes can be met,
One coffin filled.

But counting up to two
Is harder to do;
For one must be denied
Before it’s tried.

Continuing To Live
Philip Larkin

Continuing to live — that is, repeat
A habit formed to get necessaries —
Is nearly always losing, or going without.
It varies.

This loss of interest, hair, and enterprise —
Ah, if the game were poker, yes,
You might discard them, draw a full house!
But it’s chess.

And once you have walked the length of your mind, what
You command is clear as a lading-list.
Anything else must not, for you, be thought
To exist.

And what’s the profit? Only that, in time,
We half-identify the blind impress
All our behavings bear, may trace it home.
But to confess,

On that green evening when our death begins,
Just what it was, is hardly satisfying,
Since it applied only to one man once,
And that one dying.

Annus Mirabilis
Philip Larkin

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) –
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.

Up to then there’d only been
A sort of bargaining,
A wrangle for the ring,
A shame that started at sixteen
And spread to everything.

Then all at once the quarrel sank:
Everyone felt the same,
And every life became
A brilliant breaking of the bank,
A quite unlosable game.

So life was never better than
In nineteen sixty-three
(Though just too late for me) –
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.

The Old Fools
By Philip Larking

What do they think has happened, the old fools,
To make them like this? Do they somehow suppose
It’s more grown-up when your mouth hangs open and drools,
And you keep on pissing yourself, and can’t remember
Who called this morning? Or that, if they only chose,
They could alter things back to when they danced all night,
Or went to their wedding, or sloped arms some September?
Or do they fancy there’s really been no change,
And they’ve always behaved as if they were crippled or tight,
Or sat through days of thin continuous dreaming
Watching light move? If they don’t (and they can’t), it’s strange:
Why aren’t they screaming?

At death, you break up: the bits that were you
Start speeding away from each other for ever
With no one to see. It’s only oblivion, true:
We had it before, but then it was going to end,
And was all the time merging with a unique endeavour

To bring to bloom the million-petalled flower
Of being there. Next time you can’t pretend
There’ll be anything else. And these are the first signs:
Not knowing how, not hearing who, the power
Of choosing gone. Their looks show that they’re for it:
Ash hair, toad hands, prune face dried into lines –
How can they ignore it?

Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms
Inside your head, and people in them, acting.
People you know, yet can’t quite name; each looms
Like a deep loss restored, from known doors turning,
Setting down a lamp, smiling from a stair, extracting
A known book from the shelves; or sometimes only
The rooms themselves, chairs, and a fire burning,
The blown bush at the window, or the sun’s
Faint friendliness on the wall some lonely
Rain-ceased midsummer evening. That is where they live:
Not here and now, but where all happened once.
This is why they give

An air of baffled absence, trying to be there
Yet being here. For the rooms grow farther, leaving
Incompetent cold, the constant wear and tear
Of taken breath, and them crouching below
Extinction’s alp, the old fools, never perceiving
How near it is. This must be what keeps them quiet:
The peak that stays in view wherever we go
For them is rising ground. Can they never tell
What is dragging them back, and how it will end? Not at night?
Not when the strangers come? Never, throughout
The whole hideous inverted childhood? Well,
We shall find out.

The Trees
By Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Aubade
Philip Larkin

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
— The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused — nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear — no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

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Harry Graham
Billy, in one of his nice new sashes,
Fell in the fire and was burnt to ashes;
Now, although the room grows chilly,
I haven’t the heart to poke poor Billy.

When Grandmamma fell off the boat,
And couldn’t swim, and wouldn’t float,
Maria just sat by and smiled –
I almost could have slapped the child!

Weep not for little Leonie,
Abducted by a French Marquis!
Though loss of honour was a wrench,
Just think how it’s improved her French.

O’er the rugged mountain’s brow
Clara threw the twins she nursed,
And remarked, “I wonder now
Which will reach the bottom first?”

That morning, when my wife eloped
With James, our chauffeur, how I moped!
What tragedies in life there are!
I’m dashed if I can start the car.

I had written to Aunt Maud,
Who was on a trip abroad,
When I heard she’d died of cramp
Just too late to save the stamp.

When Baby’s cries grew hard to bear
I popped him in the Frigidaire.
I never would have done so if
I’d known that he’d be frozen stiff.
My wife said: ‘George, I’m so unhappé!
Our darling’s now completely frappé!

Uncle, whose inventive brains
kept evolving aeroplanes,
fell from an enormous height
upon my garden lawn last night.
Flying is a fatal sport,
uncle wrecked the tennis court.

“There’s been an accident!” they said,
“Your servant’s cut in half; he’s dead.”
“Indeed!” said Mr Jones, “and please
Give me the half that’s got my keys.”

In the drinking-well
(Which the plumber built her)
Aunt Eliza fell, —
We must buy a filter.

Late last night I slew my wife,
Stretched her on the parquet flooring;
I was loath to take her life,
But I had to stop her snoring.

Making toast at fireside,
Nurse fell in the grate and died;
And, what makes it ten times worse,
All the toast was burned with nurse.

Auntie, did you feel no pain
Falling from that apple tree?
Will you do it, please, again?
‘Cos my friend here did n’t see.

Little Willie poems by anon
Willie cut off his sister’s head
And left it lying hairless.
“Really, Willie,” said his mother,
“You sure are getting careless.”

Willie, I regret to state,
Cut his sister up for bait.
We miss her when it’s time to dine,
But Willie’s fish taste simply fine.

Willie poisoned his father’s tea;
Father died in agony.
Mother came, and looked quite vexed:
“Really, Will,” she said, “what next?!”

Little Willie with a thirst for gore,
Nailed his sister to the door
His mother said with humor quaint
Willie, dear, don’t scratch the paint.

Willie looking in the gun
Pulls the trigger just for fun.
Mother says in tones so pained,
“Willie is so scatter-brained!”

Ruthless Rhymes of Martial Militants
By Nelson Harding

Demure and sweet the ladies look,
With downcast eye and open book;
Their bonnets trimmed with flowers bright,
Their pockets filled with dynamite.

With dynamite sweet Millicent
Blew up the House of Parliament.
Milly’s always up to tricks!
Ain’t she cute? She’s twenty-six!

“Suffragette, Suffragette, where have you been?”
“I’ve been to London to visit the Queen.”
“Suffragette, Suffragette, what did you there?”
“I planted some dynamite under her chair!”

Leaning on the parapet of the bridge stands fair Annette
Dressed in pretty gown and sash.
Is she waiting for a lover? No, she just pushed someone over
And she waits to hear the splash.

more comic verse

August 15, 2006

Some of this verse is intentionally comic, others unintentionally. Some is known, some little known (perhaps deservedly). Anyway, I think they’re fun.

This was my absolutely number 1 favourite when I was around seven years old:

Parody of Longfellow’s Hiawatha

He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
Of the skin he made him mittens,
Made them with the fur side inside,
Made them with the skin side outside.
He, to get the warm side inside,
Put the cold side skin side outside.
He, to get the cold side outside,
Put the warm side fur side inside.
That’s why he put the fur side inside,
Why he put the skin side outside,
Why he turned them inside outside.
George A. Strong
The Shades of Night Were Falling Fast
by
A. E. Housman

The shades of night were falling fast
And the rain was falling faster,
When through an Alpine village passed
An Alpine village pastor;
A youth who bore mid snow and ice
A bird that wouldn’t chirrup,
And a banner, with the strange device-
‘Mrs. Winslow’s soothing syrup.’

‘Beware the pass,’ the old man said,
‘My bold and desperate fellah;
Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
And you’ll want your umberella;
And the roaring torrent is deep and wide —
You may hear how it washes.’
But still that clarion voice replied:
‘I’ve got my old goloshes.’

‘Oh stay,’ the maiden said, ‘and rest
(For the wind blows from the nor’ward)
Thy weary head upon my breast —
And please don’t think me forward.’
A tear stood in his bright blue eye
And gladly he would have tarried;
But still he answered with a sigh:
‘Unhappily I’m married.’

Good King…

Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the feast of Eustace
saying to a passing trout –
nothing rhymes with Eustace

“Maybe not” the trout replied
taking off his glasses
“But you might at least have tried”
(cows enjoy molasses)

“Look beyond the harbour light
tell me what is sailing
I no longer see the sight
for my toes are failing”

“Nothing but a virtual tree
gaily hung with presents
tartan slippers, two or three
and a brace of pheasants”

“Fetch the pheasants ere they drown
garnish them with spices
roast them till they’re golden brown
serve them up with ices

We shall have a merry pheast
trout and king together
kingy man and swimmy beast
clad in yellow leather”

Quoth the raven “nevermore
shall I dine with Wency
he has gone to distant shore
we won’t him again see

Why did he desert us so
on the feast of Steven?”
(from the distance “HoHoHo
Santa Claus gets even”)

If you’ve read it to the end
don’t be disappointed
Merry Christmas, cyber-friend.
(pigs are double jointed)

Copyright (c) Dave McClure

Love is Only a Double Negative

My memories of you go by
like rows of butterflies on crutches.

We were the blind desperately unbuttoning the blind,
lost in the blur of the forbidden.

Until your voice, like the shock of cold chicken,
ripped my heart out
and beat it like a seal pup,
into your front porch.

Suddenly, my life was invaded
by a drunken synchronized-swim team of emotions…

As the book of my soul began to fill with coffee rings.

Now I know that my life is a only metaphor,
for something infinitely worse –

But your cruelty can never keep its freshness.

One day, your beauty too, will be gone
like lost socks from a dryer.
Elas Giordano 1995
The Good Poet

A good poet in this day
is rust and iron

tastes of old
concrete pilings,

does not
lapse into beauty.

Only a dull poet

would seek out a flower,
instead of
the electric whine
of a garage
door
opening.

© Elas Giordano 1995
Insipidity

It’s said that all bad
poetry
is just one poem:

“I’m deep… and in pain

… and it’s raining outside.”

whereas mine go:

“I’m shallow… I’m
drunk

… and I just took a shower.”

This often leaves me several rain-drops
short,
for readings.

Unless I come
straight from the dentist,
through
a hurricane –

which is still only
two out of three.

© Elas Giordano 1995
funnypoetry.com
Love is a Concussion of the Soul

One look, and I want desperately
to take your
breath away for a dirty weekend.

When I glimpse down your blouse, my
heart pounds
like two deaf cats tap-dancing on an old wash-tub.

This
isn’t just love, for when my soul falls into your eyes
I know that on the
great sweater of life,
I’ve found another fuzz-ball like myself.

Someone who wouldn’t look at a print
of Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”,
and
ask what a table like that would cost,
nowadays.

Someone who knows that
love
isn’t what you have to do
if you can’t find your TV Guide

anywhere.

© Elas Giordano 1995
funnypoetry.com
Love is All Box and No Cornflakes

Now that we both know
the
opposite sex
is grief’s retail outlet –

And you won’t spit on my
grave,
in case something grows –

Now that I’ve taken the fly off my
neck
I wore when I heard your husband say
he wouldn’t hurt one,

Now
we’re both angry as cornered pacifists
because forever didn’t last
long
enough for me to get
my shoes and socks back on….

I’ll admit – that
when I cooked,
and we were short of vinegar
– I just used Windex.

© Elas Giordano 1995
funnypoetry.com
I had written to Aunt Maud,
Who was on a trip abroad,
When I heard she’d died of cramp
Just too late to save the stamp.
H. Graham, Ruthless Rhymes, Mr Jones

Boil on my bum
I woke up just now with a boil on my bum
And one half of a buttock totally numb
So are you surprised if I’m feeling all glum
And mightily rage against those who can thumb
their nose at posterior afflictions that descend on some
like me who never thought he’d succumb
to something so humdrum
as a boil on the bum
so what will they say in days to come
he couldn’t half play the drum
he was a number ,by gum
he’s swum every ocean
he was my greatest chum
oh no, forget any thought of a crumb
of comfort  they’ll say who? oh him with the boil on his bum.
I could’ve been dumb
or lived in a slum
condemned by society as nothing but scum,
drowned in a stupour of whisky and rum
someone who even his own mum
would disown as a piece of flotsam
an insignificant sliver of jetsam
in the morning tide, all this I could have borne with applomb
But now what’s left for me, what will I become
a nobody, a no-hoper, a cypher in sum
Oh, yes, he was the guy with the boil on his bum.

Tom Lee

The chicken is a noble beast
The cow is much forlorner
Standing in the pouring rain
A leg on every corner
anon

poems by Ogden Nash

August 14, 2006

This was one of my favourite poems when I was 8:

Fleas
Adam
Had’em

Here are some of my other favourites from a master of comic verse with a penchant for black humour and the absurd:

The Purist

I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist,
Trustees exclaimed, “He never bungles!”
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
“You mean,” he said, “a crocodile.”

The Cow

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.

Samson Agonistes

I test my bath before I sit,
And I’m always moved to wonderment
That what chills the finger not a bit
Is so frigid upon the fundament.

Old Men

People expect old men to die,
They do not really mourn old men.
Old men are different. People look
At them with eyes that wonder when…
People watch with unshocked eyes;
But the old men know when an old man dies.

Common Cold

Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
I’m not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever’s hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The Führer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne’er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare’s plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!
Come On In, The Senility Is Fine

People live forever in Jacksonville and St. Petersburg and Tampa,
But you don’t have to live forever to become a grampa.
The entrance requirements for grampahood are comparatively mild,
You only have to live until your child has a child.
From that point on you start looking both ways over your shoulder,
Because sometimes you feel thirty years younger and sometimes
thirty years older.
Now you begin to realize who it was that reached the height of
imbecility,
It was whoever said that grandparents have all the fun and none of
the responsibility.
This is the most enticing spiderwebs of a tarradiddle ever spun,
Because everybody would love to have a baby around who was no
responsibility and lots of fun,
But I can think of no one but a mooncalf or a gaby
Who would trust their own child to raise a baby.
So you have to personally superintend your grandchild from diapers
to pants and from bottle to spoon,
Because you know that your own child hasn’t sense enough to come
in out of a typhoon.
You don’t have to live forever to become a grampa, but if you do
want to live forever,
Don’t try to be clever;
If you wish to reach the end of the trail with an uncut throat,
Don’t go around saying Quote I don’t mind being a grampa but I
hate being married to a gramma Unquote.
Adventures Of Isabel

Isabel met an enormous bear,
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t care;
The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
The bear’s big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
How do, Isabel, now I’ll eat you!
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry.
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.
Once in a night as black as pitch
Isabel met a wicked old witch.
the witch’s face was cross and wrinkled,
The witch’s gums with teeth were sprinkled.
Ho, ho, Isabel! the old witch crowed,
I’ll turn you into an ugly toad!
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry,
She showed no rage and she showed no rancor,
But she turned the witch into milk and drank her.
Isabel met a hideous giant,
Isabel continued self reliant.
The giant was hairy, the giant was horrid,
He had one eye in the middle of his forhead.
Good morning, Isabel, the giant said,
I’ll grind your bones to make my bread.
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She nibled the zwieback that she always fed off,
And when it was gone, she cut the giant’s head off.
Isabel met a troublesome doctor,
He punched and he poked till he really shocked her.
The doctor’s talk was of coughs and chills
And the doctor’s satchel bulged with pills.
The doctor said unto Isabel,
Swallow this, it will make you well.
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She took those pills from the pill concocter,
And Isabel calmly cured the doctor.

A Caution To Everybody

Consider the auk;
Becoming extinct because he forgot how to fly, and could only walk.
Consider man, who may well become extinct
Because he forgot how to walk and learned how to fly before he thinked.
À Bas Ben Adhem

My fellow man I do not care for.
I often ask me, What’s he there for?
The only answer I can find
Is, Reproduction of his kind.
If I’m supposed to swallow that,
Winnetka is my habitat.
Isn’t it time to carve Hic Jacet
Above that Reproduction racket?

To make the matter more succint:
Suppose my fellow man extinct.
Why, who would not approve the plan
Save possibly my fellow man?
Yet with a politician’s voice
He names himself as Nature’s choice.

The finest of the human race
Are bad in figure, worse in face.
Yet just because they have two legs
And come from storks instead of eggs
They count the spacious firmament
As something to be charged and sent.

Though man created cross-town traffic,
The Daily Mirror, News and Graphic,
The pastoral fight and fighting pastor,
And Queen Marie and Lady Astor,
He hails himself with drum and fife
And bullies lower forms of life.

Not that I think much depends
On how we treat our feathered friends,
Or hold the wrinkled elephant
A nobler creature than my aunt.
It’s simply that I’m sure I can
Get on without my fellow man.
The Strange Case of the Cautious Motorist
Have you read the biography of Mr. Schwellenbach?
You can miss it if you try.
Mr. Schwellenbach didn’t have much to live for,
but he didn’t want to die.
Statistics of automobile fatalities filled his brain,
And he never drove over 25 miles per hour,
and always, I regret to say, in the left-hand lane.
Whenever he stopped for a red light he cut off the ignition,
put on the hand brake, locked all the doors,
checked his license and registration cards,
and looked in the glove compartment to see if he had mice,
So when the light turned green everybody behind him had to wait
while he de-moused the car, reassured himself that he was driving legally,
unlocked the doors, released the hand brake,
reignited the ignition, pressed the wrong button
and turned on Bing Crosby instead of the motor,
and the light turned from green to red to green thrice.
Every autumn with the rains
Mr. Schwellenbach bought a new pair of chains.
He kept a record of every lethal blowout
in the Western Hemisphere since 1921 in his files,
And he turned in his tires for new ones every 750 miles.
Well, he was driving on his new tires at 25 miles an hour
in the left-hand lane of a dual highway last week,
was Mr. Schwellenbach,
And a car coming the other way owned by a loan shark
who had bought his old tires cheap
had a blowout and jumped the dividing line
and knocked him to hellenbach.
More about People
When people aren’t asking questions
They’re making suggestions
And when they’re not doing one of those
They’re either looking over your shoulder or stepping on your toes
And then if that weren’t enough to annoy you
They employ you.
Anybody at leisure
Incurs everybody’s displeasure.
It seems to be very irking
To people at work to see other people not working,
So they tell you that work is wonderful medicine,
Just look at Firestone and Ford and Edison,
And they lecture you till they’re out of breath or something
And then if you don’t succumb they starve you to death or
something.
All of which results in a nasty quirk:
That if you don’t want to work you have to work to earn enough
money so that you won’t have to work.

This is probably  Roger McGough’s best known poem and although I don’t agree at all with the sentiments. I can’t help including it, since it does give a different view of something that preoccupies me.

Let Me Die a Youngman’s Death

Let me die a youngman’s death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I’m 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

Or when I’m 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber’s chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I’m 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a youngman’s death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
‘what a nice way to go’ death

Roger McGough

Personally, I’m all for an old man’s death, a very old man’s death where I can slip away unnoticed and unaware.

I am incapable of telling a good poem from a bad one, I just know which appeal to me. Here’s one that does.

the earth
moves
sudden
tiny snowstorms of cherryblossom
a black cat runs apprehensive
flocks of starlings
startle from bushes
slow-growing crescendo
of crashing picture-windows
gardens
uprooted
blown        pinkandwhite        skyhigh
frozen agonies of begonias
held for a moment liike a blurred polaroid
lawns flung like carpets
golfclubs    potting sheds    wheeled shopping-baskets
hurled into orbit

depfreezes burst open
prepackaged meals spilling everywhere
invitations to whist-drives    coffee mornings
letters to long-haired sons at campus universities
never to be delivered
pinboards    posters of Che Guevara stereo systems
continental quilts     rows of neat lettuces
blameless chihuahas    au pair girls
still wet from dreams of Italian waiters
mothers in law    bullfight trophies    sensible sooden toys
whirled helples in a vortex
rockeries like asteroids
blizzards of appleblossom
against the April sunlight

villa after villa
flickers off like television
birdsounds blur into the silence
heaps of white entrails
nestling amid lilies-of the-vlley
ripple like tarmac
gravel chatters        the crazy dance of pavingstones
whole avenues implode
gantries and railway bridges
quiet sidings
engulfed by avalanches of privet and howthorn
waves of chalk earth flecked with hemlock and nettle-roots
burying commuter stations

far away
the first distant ripples
flutter dovecots
disturb the pigeons
roosting in oasthouses
weekend cottages
doff their thatch to the sky
mountaintops tumble like cumuli
gales of earth
ravage through ryefields
pylons tremble like seismographs
cries of children
circling like seagulls
echo the distance

a
solitary
picnicker
sitting on a breakwater
above the red flint-strewn beach
hears the distant thunder
as clifftops crumble
looks up from the light scumbling the silver water
ro see the horizon catch fire
showers of small stones
smell of uprooted samphire
the last slive of ham    a packet of biscuits    the small black notebook
slip away unseen
as the concrete rears vertical
his ears’ last echo
the cires of lost sea-birds
one dirfting pink petal
catches the dying sunlight

more of the so-called poetry of Tom Lee

Heads and tails

why does love
turn to hate
why do two and two
make eight?

why does laughter
turn to tears
and hopes
into fears?

what makes a kiss
go amiss
and why does trust
so easily go bust

why does white
turn to black
and affection
morph into attack

why do cheers
turn into wails
and heads
become tails?

why does today
become yesterday
so quickly?
we perceive the two ends
but not where they join
we pay heed to each face
but not to the coin
why do we replace
an embrace
with a shoulder
that’s colder
than the morning frost
why do we see the price tag but never the cost?
why do we hold on to what has been lost?
Matthew Mark Luke and John

Matthew is autisitic
He wets his bed at night
God’s in his heaven
So the world’s alright

Mark abuses children
When he’s feeling bored
But he goes to church on Sundays
Praise be the Lord

Luke won the lotto
he drank it all away
God gives the jackpots
So let us all pray

John’s a country farmer
he slaughters pigs for fun
Hallowed be His name
And let His will be done

Talk to me
talk to me of love
and I will show you a mirror
talk to me of freedom and democracy
and I will show you a dollar bill
tell me about god
and i’ll say ‘listen to the thunder’
tell me about death
and i’ll say ‘now we’re talking’.

Lines written on parting from a lover after a tortuous, tempestuous and often troubled love built on crumbling trust and passion fruit, cross purposes and avocadoes, crisp chilled Sauvignon and recriminations, tagliatelli and tears, suspicion and laughter which we had foolishly prolonged beyond the point of ‘why don’t you love me like you used to’ to the stage of ‘ you never really loved me did you’

She left
me bereft