Lucy Vickery

Competition: Dead end

Competition: Dead end

Competition: Dead end

In Competition No. 2709 you were invited to take as your opening line ‘When I am dead, cremate me’ and continue, in verse, for up to a further 15.

This assignment was suggested by Frank McDonald and inspired by an exchange in the film Wilde between Queensberry and Wilde. Asked by Queensberry, ‘Where d’you stand on cremation?’, Wilde replies: ‘I’m not sure I have a position.’ To which the Marquess responds, ‘I’m for it. I wrote a poem about it. “When I am dead, cremate me.” That’s how it starts. “When I am dead … cremate me.” Whaddya think of that for an opening line?’ ‘It’s … challenging,’ says Wilde.

Well, it was a challenge that elicited a robust and witty response, the best examples of which are printed below and earn their authors £25 each. Commendations to Pete Ritchie, David Silverman and Robert Schechter. This week’s leader of the pack is Bill Greenwell, who nabs £30.

When I am dead, cremate me,
Burn me until I’m a powder,
Before turning me out of the urn
And mixing me into a chowder,
Or add my remains to a pud,
And swallow me as you might phlegm:
That’d be good, and I wish that you would.
I’d be the crème de la crem.
Don’t let me push up the daisies,
Or raise up a stone with my name.
I’d far rather go to the blazes:
Consign me, my dear, to the flame.
So when you have raised any rafters
With laughter about me, please plate me.
Have me for starters or afters.
When I am dead, cremate me.
Bill Greenwell

When I am dead cremate me;
Though further fires await me
Where I am bound to go,
How highly would they rate me
(Demons queue up to date me?),
Arriving all aglow…

No undertaker crate me,
No wormlet excavate me,
But while I burn below
Let smoke-wreaths elevate me
And gently dissipate me
And waft me to and fro;

Though flames disintegrate me
The skies shall celebrate me
And heaven itself bestow
A blessing on its foe.

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