Bouts rimés

Bouts rimés

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In Competition No. 2381 you were invited to supply a poem using a given rhyme-scheme and rhyme-words.

The rhymes were taken from Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate, that splendid narrative poem which uses Pushkin’s tricky Onegin metre with seemingly effortless skill. This was a testing challenge, the regulars and irregulars were out in force, but the seasoned veterans carried the day. Noel Petty, G. McIlraith and Godfrey Bullard can count themselves unlucky not to be among the honoured band. Keith Norman gets £30 for his editor’s lament and the other winners, printed below, have £35 each.

He claims he laboured through the long night watches,

And yet it falls to me to trim and prune,

Ameliorate the rubs, disguise the botches,

And have it finished earlier than soon.

His glib incontinence must seem facility,

His crass contrivance pass for ripe fertility;

Declaimed in tones both orotund and loud,

His leaden lines must make our scribbler proud.

Ballooning self-regard should not ’scape popping.

Since I must work with such excessive haste,

Might I let through some bovine lapse of taste

And hope to see the jaws of hearers dropping?

It must not be. I shall submit and seethe;

But watch me singe the paper when I breathe.

Keith Norman

I will perform. I do not care who watches.

No matter that my face is like a prune

(both my last facelifts have been dreadful botches),

no matter that my last gig’s coming soon.

I will perform, exploiting with facility

the remnants of my musical fertility.

My voice may croak, but still my voice is loud.

My joints may creak, but still I stand up proud.

‘Grandpop of pop,’ they say. At least I’m popping,

so hear a legend while you can. Make haste

to come and sing along, and show your taste.

I will perform — no matter if I’m dropping,

I can still make my audiences seethe.

I will perform, while I still live and breathe.

Michael Swan

When an election looms, the public watches

with growing horror as spin-doctors prune

and trim the past of blunders, lies and botches.

Forward, Not Back just means that all too soon

large promises, all wheeled out with facility,

will stretch credulity at the fertility

of MPs’ fantasies. They dream out loud!

Their massaged truths would make Pinocchio proud!

The bids are soaring — watch their red eyes popping

as they spew pledges with indecent haste,

abolish illness, crime, poor schools, bad taste;

listen! The bell-like sound of tax-rates dropping!

Can you believe all this — or do you seethe,

Knowing they’d love to tax the air you breathe?

D.A. Prince

It’s Gran’s first flight, and nervously she watches

the passing clouds, face wrinkled as a prune,

dreading the moment when the pilot botches

the swift descent. It’s home or heaven soon.

Disasters with a grim facility

spring from her mind’s increased fertility.

The pilot’s voice comes over strong and loud

showing no hint of panic, Churchill-proud,

but she can’t hear him, for her ears are popping.

Appalled that death approaches in such haste,

she wills the mint her tongue can hardly taste

to bring unconsciousness. The plane is dropping

into a savage sea whose waters seethe.

But wait, dear God, they’ve landed. She can breathe.

Frank McDonald

She sorts the jewellery, gold rings and watches;

Head shaved, skin bruised and shrivelled like a prune,

She concentrates. The punishment for botches,

However slight, is fixed and all too soon

Would line her up for the facility

That ends all future and fertility

For those whose faulty genes whisper too loud

For Aryan ears. This woman is not proud

Of lengthening her life by kneeling, popping

The treasures of the dying seized in haste

Into these unmarked boxes. She can taste —

Or thinks she can — the killing gas that’s dropping

In showers behind locked doors where victims seethe

And scream and struggle till they cease to breathe.

Alanna Blake

Surveying his estates, Prince Charles watches

Gardeners who water, weed and prune;

He’s fearful lest some youthful trainee botches

Work on beloved plants to blossom soon.

Old hands that toiled with skilled facility

Gave Highgrove’s grounds their famed fertility.

Addressing buds and blooms (but not out loud),

He offers princely praise, and makes them proud.

As if replying, heavy pods start popping,

Lusty Camellias rise in eager haste,

And honey-apples tempt the prince to taste,

As they hang on heavy branches, almost dropping.

He bites the perfumed flesh — his senses seethe.

Highgrove is heaven. He can scarcely breathe.

Andrew Brison

No. 2384: Bucolics

Since there are no peasants left in Britain, you are invited to supply an extract from an imaginary translated novel which unwittingly conveys the utter boredom of simple agricultural life. Maximum 150 words. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2384’ by 17 March.