Jaspistos

Peccavi

Peccavi

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In Competition No. 2377 you were invited to supply a poem describing your regrettable failure to keep a recent New Year’s resolution. ‘Indeed, indeed, repentance oft before/ I swore — but was I sober when I swore?’ asks FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, or as old Ovid put it, ‘Video meliora, proboque; deteriora sequor.’ Among your mainly banal broken resolutions concerning drinking, smoking, dieting and fitness, it was a relief to find some more unusual aspirations: Paul Griffin resolved to ‘see the meaning in these winter days’, Josh Ekroy to be late for every date, and Shirley Curran to put the cat out before going to bed. The prizewinners, printed below, get £25 each, but Keith Norman gets an extra fiver for excellence.

Last year, as all my deadlines loomed

With tasks not yet begun,
Oh how I cursed the lack of time
In which to get them done!
I swore that in the coming year
I’d not leave things so late.
My New Year’s resolution was:
I won’t procrastinate.
I told you of this firm resolve.
You laughed and shook your head.
‘I know I’ll keep it,’ I replied.
‘And pigs might fly,’ you said.
You bet I wouldn’t last one week.
You claim you’ve won your bet.
My friend, that simply isn’t fair:
I haven’t started yet.
Keith Norman

Through being short, each woman that I meet

Presents me with a disconcerting test,
For as we near each other in the street
My eyes are duly drawn towards her chest.
My New Year’s resolution was designed
To prove that I was not enslaved to lust
And that, by looking up, or down, I’d find
A way to halt this focus on the bust;
I tried, but looking down brought no delight
And looking up was even worse because
To be aware of every woman’s height
Reminded me of just how short I was.
My failure to succeed through being small
Will come to shorter men as no surprise.
It simply means that we who are not tall
Must be content with all that greets our eyes.
Alan Millard

Ring in the new, I thought, wring out the old

Where all my fine intentions had dissolved.
The writing on the wall was now in bold:
My resolution was to be resolved.
With shoulders back and jawline set at jut
I’d face the New Year with a steady gaze.
The daily watchword would be ‘yes’ not ‘but’,
The world be seen in black and white, not greys.
Some hopes! To make the future we need will —
Willpower, that is; will o’ the wisp won’t do.
Without it there’s no wish we can fulfil;
We see what could be but can’t see it through.
There are two saws it’s foolish to ignore:
To know thyself and to that self be true.
They’re why each year I find myself once more
Irresolute on January 2.
W.J. Webster

On New Year’s Eve I humbly swore

To end a lifelong vice,
To wit: my fatal passion for
Casinos, cards and dice.
I stood up proud, resolved to purge
My life of guilt and shame,
Acknowledging the gambling urge
As just a loser’s game.
I put aside that world of sleaze,
Those palaces of sin,
Those lurid snares designed to please
The suckers taken in.
But what with being in a rut
And too much time to kill,
This time I failed to give up, but
I bet some day I will.
G.M. Davis

I gave up chocolate on New Year’s Day;

But on the Monday I received some mail
From some solicitors in Santa Fé
Who said they had a most amazing tale.
It seems that Montezuma’s younger son
Fled the advancing Spaniards long ago;
He took the royal jewels on the run
And bred a dynasty in Idaho.
Each in his turn who held the diadem
Was hailed as king by Aztecs everywhere;
My Uncle Harold was the last of them,
And he has died, and I’m his only heir.
And so I hold the crown and title now
(I can’t pretend it isn’t what I wish),
But it’s impossible to keep my vow —
For chocolate’s the Aztec royal dish.
S.E.G. Hopkin

Oh, I wish I’d kept my temper,

Yes, I should have kept my cool.
I’d resolved to put a damper
On my over-hasty temper,
Then I really made him scamper,
When I thumped the bloody fool.
But I wish I’d kept my temper,
Yes, I should have kept my cool.
Still, you have to say the bastard
Needed putting in his place.
He was poisonous, he was plastered,
The ungovernable bastard,
But definitively mastered
When I knocked him on his face,
And you have to say the bastard
Needed putting in his place.
John Whitworth

No. 2380: Vice versaIn other words, imagine the boot on the other foot. You are invited to provide a school report by a pupil assessing the qualities of a teacher. Maximum 150 words. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2380’ by 17 February.