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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?’
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.
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.
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 email@example.com by midday on 2 December.