In Competition No. 3146 you were invited to submit a poem about the goats of Llandudno, who recently ran amok through the Welsh seaside town.
It’s not just the caprine brigade who have been broadening their horizons with humankind under lockdown. Racoons have invaded Arkansas State Library, wild boars are roaming the streets of Bergamo and lions lie sparko in the middle of the road in Kruger national park. Maybe, as Frank McDonald suggests in the closing couplet of his delightful, insightful sonnet, there is a message in all this:
“Perhaps these goats have come that man might seeA sign of how his world is going to be.
Nick Syrett’s Poe-inflected entry also foresaw a time when the beasts inherit the earth. He earns an honourable mention, as do Alan Millard, Chris O’Carroll, -Sylvia Fairley, R.M. Goddard, Frank Upton, Tim Raikes (who displayed impressive local knowledge) and The Parson for a nice reworking of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. The winners, printed below, earn £30 each.
“Let me not to th’ambition of this herdAdmit impediments; goats are not goatsWhen kettled and confined while their preferredarena’s not constrained by walls or moats.Oh, no! they venture forth, to rich and strange,From Great Orme heights to traffic-emptied streets,To munch front-garden hedges, taste their rangeAnd find in daffodils exotic treats.Goats are not fools, knowing how Nature willAbhor a vacuum; they play their partTo populate Llandudno and to fillLife’s vacancy with Capricorn-themed art.If this be terror or the goats removedMan’s lack of tolerance to Nature’s proved.D.A. Prince
“Do not go gentle through Llandudno’s lanes;Riot inside this human habitation.Upon the pavements leave your goaty stains.Though people suffer pestilence and painsMake of their sorrow cause for celebration.Do not go gentle through Llandudno’s lanes.Enjoy the freedom in your savage veins;Run, climb and jump in animal elation.Upon the pavements leave your goaty stains.Take what you will; whatever food remainsIs yours to munch. Enjoy your liberation.Do not go gentle through Llandudno’s lanes.And make the most of all these goatish gainsFound in the midst of human isolation.Do not go gentle through Llandudno’s lanes;Upon the pavements leave your goaty stains.Max Ross
“Beware Llandudno’s goats if you’ve still got stuff to sell.Those goats will steal it all and eat the packaging as well,Ignoring social distancing and sanitising gelAs they go munching on.They’ll clear the shelves in Tesco and they’ll empty Marks and Sparks.Illegal groups of three or more will congregate in parksWhere they’ll pay no heed to warnings or the public’s snide remarks.They’ll just go munching on.But goats are bright and soon they’ll find there really are a lotOf simpler ways to get supplies of what the shops have got.And once they’ve joined Ocado they will find it living proofThat their shopping need not all be ‘on the hoof’.Martin Parker
“Beneath that Welsh veneer of ChapelLurks a primal goatishness,And many find it hard to grappleWith the current hard duress.Young Rhodri gasps:‘It breaks my heart!I can’t, I simply can’t adjustTo keeping six long feet apartFrom Bronwen, object of my lust?’Throughout North Wales the air is thickWith yearning and testosterone.Young Rhodri seethes, Bron’s heart is sick,But each must suffer quite alone.When on their streets we see goats herd,A Freudian analyst might suggestIt’s neither random nor absurd,But the return of the repressed.George Simmers
“With the ardour of Achilles,Ajax coursing through our horns,We are nannies, we are billies,Braving Conwy’s early dawns:Where you exeunt, we’ll enter,Grazing on each privet bush,Traipsing through the shopping centreAs if it were the Hindu Kush.We see you have an ‘Alice’ trail!By the juices in our rumen,That’s a tale beyond our pale,The sort of tripe that gets our human.Atomic war, or just a virus?You were absent, that we did know:Mmm, these bluebells, bearded iris —Come back, not too soon, Llandudno!Bill Greenwell
No. 3149: lockdown lit
You are invited to tweak an existing book or poem title for lockdown (e.g. Wigan Pier is Closed, ‘Not Upon Westminster Bridge’) and submit an extract of up to 150 words or a poem of up to 16 lines. Please email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 13 May. NB. We are unable to accept postal entries for the time being.