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.