In Competition No. 3152 you were invited to supply a poem about the joys — or otherwise — of the staycation.
A poem that transports me back to childhood bucket-and-spade holidays — ‘Half an annual pleasure, half a rite…’ — is ‘To the Sea’ by Philip Larkin (not a fan of holidays abroad). But while lines such as ‘the small hushed waves’ repeated fresh collapse/ Up the warm yellow sand…’ make me long to head straight for the south coast, you lot, judging by the entry, are not relishing the prospect of holidaying at home this summer. Well, most of you. Bill Greenwell reminded me that foreign holidays, too, have their downsides:
“No more crazy airport purchaseNo all-nighters on MetaxaNo more quaintly foreign churchesNo more brute bikini-waxer
The winners below take £30 each.
“We must go down to the sea again,To a sea as grey as the sky,Where all we’ll get is an icy dip,And nothing to warm us dry.We must go down to the beach againWhere the jetsam’s swept in on the tideAnd joins whatever’s been chucked down and leftTo litter the landward side.We must stroll down on the front againAnd recall what it’s like to inhaleNot the sea-salty tang of fresh coastal airBut car fumes and chip fat gone stale.We must go down to the sea againWhere the view is of turbines or mistAnd the rain’s lurking ready to drizzle or drenchOn the whim of the winds as they list.W.J. Webster
“How to spend our staycation? Well, I was ecstaticWhen Marion suggested two weeks in the attic.Soon, laden with parcels and rucksacks and casesWe mounted the ladder with joy on our faces.Some dusting was needed, but when that was done,We both settled in for a fortnight of fun.There were issues, it’s true, with the chemical loo,And the primus-cooked porridge was meths- flavoured glue —But wow! the sheer joy of the night of the storm,When we huddled so closely to try to keep warmAs rain hammered fiercely upon the cold slatesAnd the crash and the flash made us fear for our fates.Oh what an adventure for us two old-timers!Until the last day, when I misjudged the primusAnd much of the house was destroyed in the fire.Otherwise those two weeks were all we could desire.George Simmers
“Staycations suck. You’ll just be bored.You need to act with guileSo that you seem to be abroad,Not in this septic isle.We decorate our dwelling hereWith notices in Spanish,Primarily Menú del Día.Then inhibitions vanish.Consumed with appetite anewIn this ideal locale,We progress from entrantes toOur plato principal.Arroz con leche crowns the meal,A culminant endeavour.It’s pure repletion that we feel.Melancolía? Never.Basil Ransome-Davies
“Today we have pacing the lawn. Last yearWe had dolce far niente by the pool. And tomorrowwe shall have walking the hedge. Dark aglianicosings in the heart where our dreams are.And today we have pacing the lawn.This is our boundary, socially fixed, and thisIs where we remain for the duration. We can explorethe remote pyrocanthus, suitably shroudedin whatever protects us from invasive barbs, and from varietyWhich in our case we have not got.What we have not got is no longer easy. WhenThis began we sacrificed our sun-drenched futures, our Alban hillsOr northern road trips for the commonest of good,While we yearned in our hearts for bluebells and riverbanks.Now today we have pacing the lawn.D.A. Prince
“That afternoon we came upon a sleepy seaside town,Where from a leaden sky the constant rain was pelting down,Yet on the beach, defiant, all around the sodden bayStood people dreaming this was Juan-les-Pins, or Saint-Tropez.With half-dropt eyelids, half-shut eyes and drowsy, slumberous swoonsThey gathered outside Nando’s, KFC and Wetherspoons.With mild-eyed melancholy, like those ancient Lotos-eaters,They eyed each other warily, no closer than two metres;And deep asleep they seemèd, standing rooted to the spot,As though of Lethe they had drunk, and then had quite forgotThe arts of conversation, bonhomie, togetherness:Instead they mumbled ‘Stay alert’, ‘Protect the NHS’;‘Unprecedented’, ‘exponential’, ‘flattening the curve’;‘New normal’, ‘clap for rainbows’ and ‘Ensure that we observeEternal social distancing, and thus reduce the R;O rest ye, co-Covidians — we will not wander more.’David Silverman
No. 3155: al fresco
You are invited to supply a poem entitled ‘The Picnic’. Please email up to 16 lines to email@example.com by midday on 24 June. NB. We are unable to accept postal entries for the time being.