In Competition No. 3138 you were invited to submit a poem entitled ‘Lines on a Young Lady’s Instagram’. Thanks to David Jones, who suggested this challenge, a nod to Philip Larkin’s 1953 ‘Lines on a Young Lady’s Photograph Album’ from the collection The Less Deceived (‘My swivel eye hungers from pose to pose —/ In pigtails, clutching a reluctant cat;/ Or furred yourself, a sweet girl--graduate…’).
There were echoes of Larkin-esque perviness in the entry, and stalkerish voyeurism, too, courtesy of Nick Syrett’s twist on Betjeman’s ‘A Subaltern’s Love Song’, which appears below. The witty and accomplished winners earn £25 each.
“At last your smart account accepted me,A newbie in the ranks of insta-snaps:Nosey, I had a peek beneath its wraps —The videos I had not thought to see:All too amusing, or amused, perhaps.Here you are, for instance, with a jawDrivelling blood — a horror-film prostheticThat looks like death. Is all this weird cosmeticYour vision of fun? Alas, I can’t ignoreThe tattoo shots: they all seem so synthetic.And are these piercings…? Now I feel I’ve spied.I shouldn’t work myself in such a lather,Should log out, or delete all, if you’d rather.What is this retro filter you’ve applied?I’d ask you, but of course I am your father.Bill Greenwell
“At last new images are on display!I cyber-stalk you, feed on what you post.Bikini pictures nourish me the most,And this is your first batch since yesterday.You play with which bare bits the site will host.Some days you frustrate me with close-ups ofCosmetics, restaurant meals and pairs of shoes,So thank you for today’s more pleasing viewsOf nearly everything there is to love.Yourself, not just your stuff, is what I chooseTo gaze on. Orate with your naked skin.Paint words and pictures where your lovers touch.Let your fans feel you feel for us that much.Let us feel all the virtue, all the sin.Flaws make us more whole, strength is just a crutch.Chris O’Carroll
“What Glories! Images from Instagram —That Medium that proclaims the great I Am!Behold your Kitten, brushed by careful Art,A nimble Lover to ensnare a Heart.See how this Minx extends her infant PawsAnd simulates delight with shining Claws;Her Eyes, wide pools of liquid feline fire,Plead for the Satisfaction of Desire;Her Limbs, extended in voluptuous sprawl,Evoke the Paradise before The Fall;Your Duvet, dimpled by her Wantonness,Admits no bounds but lux’ry of Excess.Oh, how your Choice of Post defines your RôleAnd animal abundance in your Soul.Rejoicing Followers and Muse uniteTo hymn your Instagrams of pure Delight.D.A. Prince
“Miss J. Hunter Dunn, have you hunted and won?Jemima on Snapchat says he is ‘the One’.In the tournament pics is it Face like a Stoat?Or the one in the summerhouse, chewing your throat?Janice, on Whatsapp, maintains that your squeezeIs the one on the right of this shot on his knees,And there’s you throwing up on some hideous mare…She’s the Adjutant’s sister? Does anyone care?Here’s one of the Hillman you borrowed from Dad,And you and your subaltern scantily clad…He seems a bit startled, perhaps that’s the flash,Or it might just be cramp with his arse on the dash?Here’s some shots of the church, yes you look a bit rough,But nothing else shows that you’re right up the duff;And reviewing your stalkers, it could have been worse —Like that clown in the trilby, still scribbling verse.Nick Syrett
“Pictical spectacle,InstagrammaticalSee what she’s writtenTo humble old me.Touchingly technicalPerfectly personalWondrously witty andSplendid to see.Soundly scriptorial,Proudly pictorialUsing her medium forAmorous art.Awesome audacity,Pure perspicacity,Cuddlesome closenessThough miles apart.Max Ross
“At last I reached your Instagram and foundA link that yielded up your usernameAnd profile picture, edited, to claimMy heart: uploaded images aboundAs tokens in the social media game.I longed to touch your hashtag, as you sharedYour photographs and I, distracted, sawYour features, bland, devoid of any flaw;Faintly disturbing, yet at last I daredTo send a ‘like’ that promised so much more.You live your life upon the internet,Unvariably lovely, you dependOn comments posted by each virtual friend.I fear to find that, if one day we met,The real girl’s an illusion in the end.Sylvia Fairley
No. 3141: sing a different song
In case we all get fed up with ‘Happy Birthday’, you are invited to compose a song to be sung during hand-washing. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to email@example.com by midday on 18 March.