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.
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.