Beauty treatment

Beauty treatment

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In Competition No. 2392 you were invited to supply a poem in praise of something generally considered ugly.

Chesterton beatified the donkey ‘with monstrous head and sickening cry, And ears like errant wings’ who carried Christ to Jerusalem, and Stephen Spender rhapsodised (as one of you did) about pylons, ‘bare like nude, giant girls that have no secret’. I could not accept a 1930s Murphy radiogram as an icon of ugliness (nostalgists might adore one), nor wasps, which are pesky rather than unbeautiful, but the back end of a bus (especially when you have just missed it) I allowed. The winners are printed below, Paul Griffin taking £30 and the rest £25 each.

Most ladies, like Muffet, are convinced they will snuff it

If a spider comes in their vicinity,

From which they determine a spider is vermin

And damn it from here to infinity.

Myself, I confess it, I frequently bless it,

This outcome of lengthy mutations;

Like Robert the Bruce, I’ve discovered a use

For a creature of purpose and patience.

I bought from a vet and keep as a pet

A specimen large, black, and hairy,

Who is friendly and kind, and daily I find,

Has a number of functions that vary.

With ladies who boss me or wilfully cross me,

He turns their aggression to choking,

While ladies I fancy, like Judy and Nancy,

Throw their arms round my neck, and need stroking.

Paul Griffin

What’s in a name? For you, I fear, too much:

Slug is a word one would not give to such

As fill the eager bosom with delight.

But why? You make your bashful way by night

As though you know your presence might offend

Those gardeners who would bring about your end.

But when by day — too rarely — you are seen,

Your body shimmers with a subtle sheen,

In mottled browns, pale golds and bronzes dressed,

As iridescent as the starling’s breast.

In movement, too, your muscles pulse and purse

More fluidly than Mr Universe.

No Magic Roundabout grants you a ride:

The vulgar taste prefers shells worn outside.

But bear your horns with pride: such judgment errs.

Your beauties are reserved for connoisseurs.

Noel Petty

The water closet may not be

The loveliest thing the eye can see,

But what a truly welcome sight

When stomachs churn at dead of night.

The white and shining porcelain bowl

Surrounds the deep mysterious hole

Where sparkling, swirling waters send

The rank detritus round the bend.

Though plastics prosper, nought can beat

The comfort of the wooden seat.

Mahogany is best to bear

The travails of the derrière.

Praise be, we ladies never knew

The problems of the bourdaloue.

To Crapper, Armitage and Shanks

I tender my eternal thanks.

Maureen Melvin

Spaghetti Junction seldom has

Bouquets to mark its beauty, as

This is for cognoscenti, who

Appreciate the larger view.

Its coils are airy serpents turned

Concrete parabola — those learned

In mathematics marvel at

Equations visible, and that

Theory and form can so combine

In sinuous, supple, man-made line.

Under its thirty acres thrive

Small wildlife, missed by those who drive

Its eighteen routes of tarmac space

Indifferent to time or place,

Or how this columned giant fist is

An icon of the vibrant Sixties.

D.A. Prince

Evolved perfection of beak and muscle and claw,

Of powerful wing and expertly sighted eye,

A manifestation of Nature’s proven law:

For the fit to survive the old and the weak must die.

There’s more to wonder at, more that we must admire

As we watch the vultures hover on thermals, till

They sense the approach of death, first circle higher,

Then drop instinctively straight upon the kill.

At the Towers of Silence, on Africa’s ruthless plain,

In sequels to slaughter, to plague, to drought, to flood,

They know no tenderness, deaths are all the same:

Their means of survival, their patient reward of food.

The world needs scavengers, cleaners, finishing off

The cycle of birth and growth that is Nature’s goal;

These are not times to forget their worth or to scoff

At vultures, hooded and bent on their god-given role.

Alanna Blake

You may think it ugly, a nightmare to drive,

But I’ll give you a toast to the M25.

The king of all roads, it will take you around

The city of London, the jewel in its crown.

Consider the villages found to each side,

Pratts Bottom and Stubbers, Crooked Mile or Cockhide,

Fiddlers Hamlet and Brambles, Dancers Hill or Rooks Nest,

But Titsey and Catlips are surely the best.

Then the crown is inlaid with historical gems,

Magna Carta was signed over there by the Thames,

From Windsor to Waltham the Normans held sway

Building castles and abbeys still with us today.

Where St Albans now stands the Romans took flight

When Boudicca sacked the old town in the night,

While Churchill at Chartwell in spirit lives still,

And are those still Spitfires around Biggin Hill?

Tim Raikes

No. 2395: Cantrip

In other words, a witch’s spell. You are invited to write a rhymed one (maximum 16 lines) to bring someone or something either good or ill. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2395’ by 2 June.