In Competition No. 3246, you were invited to submit a poem in the style of the poet of your choice about a problematic appendage.
Taking pride of place alongside Philip Larkin’s troublesome penis were Heaney’s big toe, Shelley’s belly, and a series of noses, among them Mike Morrison/Ogden Nash:
“This nose/conk/beak/hooter/schnozzleHas brought me nothing but anguish and schemozzle...
An honourable mention also goes to Alex Steelsmith/Edward FitzGerald:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,Moves on – and there’s the Rub; it doesn’t quit.It probes a Naris, Concha and anonExplores a Sphincter, Orifice and Pit...
The winners, below, earn £20 each.
“Shall I compare thee to the King of Spain’s?To Walsingham’s or Raleigh’s? Francis Drake’sOr Marlowe’s? To Da Vinci’s, which he trainsLong, very like Medusa – sans the snakes?A plague on thee, beard! On each arrant knaveWho plucks and pulls at thee and calls thee ‘scruff’,Cries ‘William, we beg thee, have a shave!Unbeard thyself, good Will, we’ve seen enough.’To shave or not to shave: aye, there’s the rub!Whether to live not whiskered but bare-chinn’d,Each morning thus to lather and to scrub,Or face the barbs, by nature’s course untrimm’d,While green-eyed knaves, hoist by their own petard,Shall weep that they’re not bearded like the Bard?David Silverman/Shakespeare
“When I consider how my life is wreck’d,For half my days are spent in pain, and knowingI’ll bear the torture of a nail in-growing,That’s brutalising my big toe, uncheck’d.The nail invades my flesh, I can but hobble,With throbbing toe enlarged by inflammation,Pray offer me relief through amputationI fondly ask, while envying the Pobble.A simple op could give me back my lifeAnd yet I’m forced to toe the line, I fear,Endure my damaged digit’s sorry state.Thousands seek to feel the surgeon’s knifeYet waiting lists are long and slow to clear;And, suffering, I only stand and wait.Sylvia Fairley/Milton
“You know my jolly smile, my grinWhen by a tomb, amazed,Yet whether grim or gaily glum,My brows are always raised.The hurly-burly of the rails,A May breeze breathing soft,The snick of angry hockey-sticks –My brows are roused, aloft.And even when a ‘modern’ churchUpon my eyes is foisted,Some sense a kindness in my scorn,My eyebrows being hoisted.Dear Lord, should I attend thy grace,My soul severely parched,Take pity on my face. You see,These brows are always arched.Bill Greenwell/Betjeman
“I want a right foot, one to match the left,That’s neatly shaped, and featly, that does wellAt showing off, enchanting, one that’s deftAnd nimble for adventures, one to tellA tale of lusty and heroic heft.But what I’ve got’s this inward-curving shell.It only hobbles like a shackled brute,No prize for beauty, and a drag, to boot.No mountebank can switch a crooked limb,So let it build its story as it can,Display my muscled prowess when I swimThe Grand Canal or Hellespont; no manCan ask for more or find a sweeter hymnThan loving mistress sings from her divan.For, after all, one foot is not the partThat’s foremost entering the female heart.D.A. Prince/Byron
“My long appendage serves me wellWhen lovely lassies choose tae callBut vicars say it’s made in hell,A problem tool.And yet on me it casts a spell.It makes me drool.I cannot sing too high its praise.It pleases folk in many ways;It can excite, delight, amazeBoth old and young.It’s been a blessing all my days:My silver tongue!Max Ross/Burns
“I ponder, as, beside the Lakes,I walk in sunshine, wind and rain,On how much self-control it takesTo camouflage this constant pain.And yet I cover countless miles,Despite these agonising piles.And then, whene’er I take a restBeside the many sparkling streams,The pain becomes more manifest,But only Nature hears my screams…No torture was there e’er employedAs dreadful as the haemorrhoid!C. Paul Evans/Wordsworth
“My leg, born dead, is cold as steelAnd yet we’re still attached.I drag it round, it cannot feel:Friends reckon us well matched.My leg, born dead – it is my left –Will never have its sayAnd though I know its awful heft,It cannot walk away.Adrian Fry/Stevie Smith
No. 3249: a fine romance
You are invited to submit an extract from a Mills & Boon-style novel whose central character is a contemporary politician (please specify). Email entries of up to 150 words to email@example.com by midday on 11 May.