Lucy Vickery

Changing fashions

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In Competition No. 2975 you were invited to supply your own nine-line twist on Robert Herrick’s ‘Upon Julia’s clothes’:

Whenas in silks my Julia goes

Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows

That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see

That brave vibration each way free,

O how that glittering taketh me!

In a large and somewhat raucous entry, Herrick’s 17th-century restraint was cast aside in favour of full-on 21st-century vulgarity. Honourable mentions go to Basil Ransome-Davies, John Whitworth and Josh Ekroy. The winners, printed below, take £15 each.

Whenas in shorts my Julia plays

A set or two on summer days

I think of Herrick’s, who wore stays.

If in a skirt, it’s not that long

And struggles to conceal the thong

Unknown in Robert’s verse or song.

White hairless legs, below the knees?

With us, much more is viewed with ease

Than when he wrote Hesperides.

Jerome Betts

Whenas in jorts my Julia goes,

I note she’s sporting camel toes.

Whynot, I offer, change your clothes?

Then-at I cast my eyes and see

How-of she with her voice makes free,

Abjuring me as ‘one of those’,

Whilst popping me upon the nose.

Therefor, to bleach I’ve now consigned

The shirt that she incarnadined.

Frank Osen

Whenas in time my Julia grows

less lustrous than a dew-pearled rose

I’ll be the only one who knows.

For, while her unguents, paint and paste

applied with artistry and taste

may long conceal old age’s haste

I’ll do what timeless love entails

by doctoring her bathroom scales

to lie each day ’til Earth’s light fails.

Martin Parker

Whenas in style my Julia dines

She says ‘My perfect valentine’s

The one who buys me fancy wines,

The kind that make a girl go ape

And pray to God she won’t escape

The liquefaction of the grape.’

And so, to have a bon, bon soir

And end up in my love’s boudoir,

I buy her pricey pinot noir.

Robert Schechter

Whenas in dreams my Julia takes

My hand, my heart no longer breaks,

And though I’m sleeping there awakes

In me a sense that so-called dreams

Are more than merely that which seems

But that which is. The rest are schemes,

A bunch of lies that I’ve been fed.

But when I wake alone in bed

I lie there stunned I’ve been misled.

Roger Slater

Whenas in shorts my Julia strides

Or sinuous as a panther glides

My aching heart in two divides.

Each half one glorious leg adores,

Each half one mighty sole implores,

While like a hunter she explores.

She sights me, she is coming near;

I trembling wait, in love and fear.

O Julia, crush me, I am here.

Roger Rengold

Whenas, in vain, my Julia pleads

With me, when answering my needs,

To lift the seat, my mind concedes

She has a point. It isn’t kind,

When I have peed, to let her find

A splattered seat for her behind.

I tried it for a while, but then

She still complained: ‘You wretched men!

Why can’t you put it down again?’

A.R. Duncan-Jones

Whenas in chains my Julia drags

Around the prison, dressed in rags,

With eyes that droop, and mouth that sags,

I have to ask, why did she slay

Her seamstress, who had nerve to say

She didn’t look so good in gray?

Had she but kept her rage in check,

She’d not, tomorrow, make the trek

To wear a noose around her neck.

Mae Scanlan

Whenas in gear my Julia hies,

Those muscled, Lycra-stretching thighs

And shapely calves draw roving eyes.

In Nike boots when then she scales

The heights, a goddess she abseils,

My aspiration almost fails.

But when her size 8 feet are bare

I bathe the blisters bursting there:

Ah, then she needs my tender care.

Alanna Blake

No. 2978: empty words

You are invited to submit a selection of meaningless, pseudo-profound statements, for example, ‘Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.’ Please email up to ten each to by midday on 2 December.