In Competition No. 2401 you were invited to provide a dialogue in verse or prose between two parts of yourself at odds with each other. Hands up anyone who has never talked to themselves…. Not a hand? I thought so. And yet it’s odd that when one does it, it isn’t a dialogue. ‘For God’s sake pull yourself together,’ my voice may say, but the Caliban bit of Jaspistos being addressed never replies in speech, just grunts mutinously. In the 17th century a poetic dialogue between Body and Soul was common, and I anticipated modern arguments between Ego and Superego, but I got few. Never mind, it was a good week. The prizewinners, printed below, get £25 each except for Mike Morrison, who takes £30.
Hands sneered, ‘Just look at you, your shape’s all wrong
And, boy, do you have a tendency to pong!’Feet countered, ‘Yes, but what else can we do?He never washes us as much as you.’‘We’re very versatile,’ hands bragged. ‘In fact,You might call us a brilliant double act.’‘Big deal,’ cried feet, ‘we’re clever too. No wayCould you perambulate himself all day.’‘And that’s your limit, innit, twinkle-toes?Our man must be embarrassed, stuck with those.’‘You must remember how he loves to roam —When he gets lost it’s us who fetch him home.’‘You’ve not a leg to stand on,’ hands then hissed.‘You’ll be redundant soon and hardly missed.’‘Stop bickering,’ feet sighed. ‘We’re both employedAnd give good service to our humanoid.’Mike Morrison
Look at her. She’s dead. Oh God, she’s dead. Look what you’ve done.She’s not dead — she can’t be — her eyes are still open.Look at the pool of blood expanding beneath her head like a halo. She’s dead and you killed her.What do you mean I killed her? It was your idea, you did this.I said to scare her, not to kill her, that was your doing. Just look at her.I didn’t mean to do it. Oh God, what are we going to do?Hide her.Yes, but where?This is your mess, you clear it up.I wouldn’t be in this mess without your help. It was your idea.All right, all right, let’s think. She’s too heavy for just one pair of hands.So what, we just leave her here, for anyone to come across?Not exactly. Here’s the plan....Francesca Walker
Do something useful! Come on, get a grip!Yes, yes, I know. But first I need a kip.A kip! You’ll rest for ever all too soon. You’re right, of course, but sleep is such a boon.Doze, if you must — but when you wake, what next?That question always leaves me quite perplexed.You want suggestions? Well, here’s one to try.Already doubt creeps in — I can’t think why.Become a technophile, embrace the new!Change changes: I prefer the longer view.And with that view, do tell me what you see.A world impervious to you and me.Don’t bind me with your diffidence, mon frère!Touché, we are a couple not a pair.At least we know what we believe is true.Well, yes, I guess, perhaps, I think we do.W.J. Webster
I like the look of it, I can’t deny it,But all the same I don’t think I should buy it.Buy while they have it; other people would.Next week it could be out of stock for good.But do I need it? That’s the bit I doubt.I’ve shown that I can quite well do without.Spend while you can enjoy it; live your dream.Your kids will only spend it on ice cream.I’ll get it cheaper if I shop around;When I was young a pound was still a pound.But that’s not how to look at things today.You see it, so you buy it, that’s the way.I can’t give in to every sudden itch.Besides, I ought to look it up in Which?Let go for once! Sometimes I want to shake you.A pencil-sharpener’s hardly going to break you.Noel Petty
Awake, for morning in the bowl of night...Shut it, it’s hardly even getting light.Arise, arise, the day is fresh with dew.I’m knackered. I’ll just have an hour or two.Wake up and smell the coffee! Seize the day!My dream involved a blonde — please let her stay!No. Wakey-wakey! Time to rise and shine!I’m tired. I’m ill. It must be last night’s wine.Up, lad, and at ’em. Come on, shake a leg!Just ten more minutes warmth — I plead, I beg!No, no. It’s time to eat your egg and toast.Another hour is what I’d like the most.It’s twenty minutes now since your alarm.So twenty more won’t cause me any harm.Get up and meet the challenge of the new!OK, OK. Besides, I need the loo.Brian Murdoch
‘Go on! You know you want to watch it!‘I do not!’‘Garn! You do! You’re dying to watch Big Brother!’‘How dare you! I’m above such things. They have no attraction for me whatsoever. Not even the blonde with the deep blue eyes and massive — massive — Not even her. I’d rather read some Tolstoy.’‘Tolstoy? You probably think he plays in goal for Blackburn Rovers. Tolstoy? More like Mickey Spillane, isn’t it?’‘Well, I do read the odd detective novel, I agree, but only as a relief from my more intellectual pursuits. And anyway, there’s a production of Timon of Athens on Radio Four tonight. Unmissable.’‘Tell you what; let’s compromise. We’ll watch Big Brother, then catch Timon, shall we?’‘Well ...I suppose one should be alert to all forms of culture ...All right! ...And is she still on it, you know, the one with the massive...?Michael Cregan
No. 2404: Gods or dogsT.S. Eliot’s quartet ‘The Dry Salvages’ begins, ‘I do not know much about gods; but ...’ You are invited to supply a poem beginning thus, substituting, if you prefer, ‘dogs’ for ‘gods’. Maximum 16 lines. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2404’ by 4 August.