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 loomedWith tasks not yet begun,Oh how I cursed the lack of timeIn which to get them done!I swore that in the coming yearI’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 meetPresents me with a disconcerting test,For as we near each other in the streetMy eyes are duly drawn towards her chest.My New Year’s resolution was designed To prove that I was not enslaved to lustAnd that, by looking up, or down, I’d findA way to halt this focus on the bust;I tried, but looking down brought no delightAnd looking up was even worse becauseTo be aware of every woman’s heightReminded me of just how short I was.My failure to succeed through being smallWill come to shorter men as no surprise.It simply means that we who are not tallMust be content with all that greets our eyes.Alan Millard
Ring in the new, I thought, wring out the oldWhere 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 jutI’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 moreIrresolute on January 2.W.J. Webster
On New Year’s Eve I humbly sworeTo end a lifelong vice,To wit: my fatal passion forCasinos, cards and dice.I stood up proud, resolved to purgeMy life of guilt and shame,Acknowledging the gambling urgeAs just a loser’s game.I put aside that world of sleaze,Those palaces of sin,Those lurid snares designed to pleaseThe suckers taken in.But what with being in a rutAnd too much time to kill,This time I failed to give up, butI bet some day I will.G.M. Davis
I gave up chocolate on New Year’s Day; But on the Monday I received some mailFrom some solicitors in Santa FéWho said they had a most amazing tale.It seems that Montezuma’s younger sonFled the advancing Spaniards long ago;He took the royal jewels on the runAnd bred a dynasty in Idaho.Each in his turn who held the diademWas 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 damperOn 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 masteredWhen 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.