Skip to Content


Competition No. 2660: Body language

Lucy Vickery presents the latest competition

19 August 2010

11:13 AM

19 August 2010

11:13 AM

Lucy Vickery presents the latest competition

In Competition No. 2660 you were invited to submit a poem in praise of a bodily part that has been overlooked by poets.

You turned out in force to celebrate the unsung heroes of our anatomy. Sonnets to the spleen rubbed shoulders with paeans to the pancreas and odes to organs I’d never heard of. Some made me queasy, others — Mick Poole, especially — made me chortle; but everyone impressed, so congratulations all round.

The winners, printed below, earn £25 each and G.M. Davis pockets £30.

There are those whose gonads ripple at the
mention of a nipple,
While others prize the knuckle or the heel,
And although the thought may pain us there are
some who view the anus
As their cherished anatomical ideal.

There are rumours that the eyebrows lure a coterie
of highbrows,
That the spleen is more to Middle England’s taste
And that groupies of the humerus are both poorly
schooled and numerous ‹
But my interest resides below the waist.

Yes, the kneecap is my Laura, since its charismatic
Uplifts me to Petrarchan heights of verse.
In my dream life the patella is superlatively stellar.
In its mystagogic depths I self-immerse.

Like a Rohmeresque obsessive I aspire to be
To touch the joint that haunts me night and day;
But the gendarmes aren’t romantic, they are
rulebound and pedantic,
And I often get arrested, sad to say.
G.M. Davis

Shall I compare thee to the Pearly Gates?
No pearls thy heavenly portals could eclipse.
The charms of each the other duplicates
There, where the septum sits above the lips
And hidden channels bifurcate to form
Those wondrous apertures of dark delights
Where turbinals and mucous membranes warm
Cold air inhaled on bitter winter nights.
Aesthetically positioned, side by side,
They sniff and sneeze and twitch and flare and
And what enchanting mysteries they hide
Within their phlegm-filled chambers none can tell.
Let others, other body parts admire.
Of these, mine eyes will never, ever tire.
So long as nostrils gladden and amaze,
So long lives this, for this thy wonders praise.
Alan Millard

Let’s praise the invulnerable ulna
That gives every elbow its joint:
It won’t help you twist when it comes to the wrist,
But when leaning, it gives you your point.
It’s the inner bone helping your forearm,
And forearmed is forewarned, of course:
It’s sweet and it’s civil and helps you to swivel —
It gives all your elbow grease force.

Some bones are dull — now, the ulna
Has virtues you’d have to call numerous:
When you’re seated at table, or waving, it’s able
To work with its old pal, the humerus.

It’s twinned with the radius (shorter),
But the ulna’s the bone with the class:
Touch it and swell that you know how to tell
Your excellent elbow from arse.
Bill Greenwell

O hippocampus, hidden in thy brain,
How precious are the gifts it doth bestow.
Without it, life and love would be in vain;
Without this seahorse, thou wouldst surely grow
Forgetful as a goldfish. And, indeed,
Thou wouldst be lost, would flounder all at sea
Unmindful of the landmarks others heed;
Might know me not, and from my presence flee.
Though unappealing in its slug-like form,
This little silkworm weaves thine inner world,
And from its secret chamber, snug and warm,
Spins magic as it lies encouched and curled.
Let others praise the parts that they can see:
I value most the things that make thee THEE.
Jane Dards

I sing the laryngea prominentia
— Or Adam’s Apple if that’s less than clear —
The most conspicuous male-type differentia
(There are some more, but best not mentioned
It is our pride and joy, our crowning glory,
Commemorating Adam’s fateful chew,
Which stuck fast in his craw, so goes the story
(Eve’s story was quite hard to swallow, too).
It is the most amusing of projections,
Often possessed of near-hypnotic power.
Its disappearances and resurrections
Can keep a small child entertained for hours.
Its fluted elegance denotes transition,
Marking the entry to our manly phase.
What’s more, it’s special to the male condition,
A rare and curious spectacle these days.
Noel Petty

Spare a thought for the hard-working spleen,
Although few of us know what it’s for,
But it battles, unseen, to keep your blood clean,
Fighting toxins that come through the door.

It’s a spongy and vascular organ
That filters out harmful bacteria,
Obsolete cells, foreign bodies as well,
To give us a spotless interior.

White blood cells are formed in the spleen,
It produces some tough antibodies,
Like New Scotland Yard, it’s always on guard,
With its anti-terrorist squaddies.

So next time you’re venting your spleen,
When you’re angry, or feeling frustrated
Remember your spleen is working off-screen
To remove the bad blood that’s created.
Tim Raikes

No. 2663: Grimm revision
You are invited to submit a politically correct version of a well-known fairy tale (150 words maximum). Entries should be submitted, by email where possible, to by midday on 1 September.

Show comments