Lucy Vickery

North and South

In Competition No. 2963 you were invited to submit a poem about the North or the South or one comparing the two. -Tennyson’s lines ‘bright and fierce and fickle is the South,/And dark and true and tender is the North’ (from ‘The Princess: O Swallow’), which inspired this challenge, produced a wide-ranging and exhilarating entry that took me from the bridge table to North Korea and beyond. The winners earn £25 each. Frank McDonald pockets £30.

In the north there’s a fish with a serious wish
To break out and be queen of the sea,
And she tells all the others we’re sisters and

Who ought to get wise and be free.
In her lust for control she looks out for a hole
In the barriers keeping her in.
With the power of her mouth she discredits the

As she waves a contemptuous fin.
But little she knows of the icebergs and snows
That exist in the oceans outside,
For her hunger to rule turns a fish to a fool
As she waits for a welcoming tide.
If there does come a day when she gets her own

Like the people who hunted the snark,
You can bet the poor sole will be swallowed up

When she’s first introduced to a shark.
Frank McDonald

You’ll know when you get there, the vowels go flat;
and people respond ‘Ah know nowt abaht that’.
They speak as they find and don’t find much to like.
The rain’s in your face and you’re blown off your

It gets darker earlier, the cloud’s always grey
and the food is all fried — and in lard, so they say.
The Angel (the North one) can’t manage to fly.
You watch it for hours. No lift-off, that’s why.

The South’s got no Angel; instead, there’s the pole

that’s spoiled Brighton’s sea front and sucked out
its soul.
There’re too many cars: on a Bank Holiday
they’re bumper to bumper on hell’s motorway.
A house costs a fortune, the trains are on strike;
from London to Brighton it’s quicker to hike.

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