In Competition No. 3140 you were invited to submit a poem in the style of a famous poet in which they make a surprising confession.
It’s elbow-bumps all round this week: an excellent entry. Douglas G. Brown reveals the raciness (gin; trollops) that lurks beneath Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s high-minded exterior. Nick MacKinnon exposes the jolly, ‘Kumbaya’-singing side of misery guts Larkin. And E.E. Cummings fesses up, via Christopher Davies:
“it’stime(i came clean)my typewriter(is)broken.
Commendations to Peter Mills, Paul A. Freeman, David Silverman, P.M. Davidson and Lachlan Rurlander. The winners earn £25 each.
“Breathes there a man with mind so primThat he would ne’er indulge the whimOf borrowing his lady’s dressThat he might feel its sweet caress’Stead harsh constriction in his breeks?Scorn not the cumbered man who seeks,As I confess that I have done,A solace that is swiftly wonBy wearing petticoats of silkAnd other garments of that ilk.When troubled I would oft repairDiscreetly to my rooms and thereIn gown and bodice loosely strappedGaze out on moor and scaur, so raptThat I would soon forget my woesAnd brawny, manly verse compose.Hugh King/Walter Scott
“Her fish-netted thighs left me weak at the kneesAs I climbed up behind her towards our trapeze;Then standing surveying the crowd from the heights,She in her sequins and me in my tights;And the Aldershot subalterns cheering her charmsAs she flew her parabolas into my arms;And their gasps of alarm as she’d plummet and twistTill I grasped her and clasped her by ankle and wrist.And the thrill of her touch and the throb of each nerveAs she’d hang from my legs in a sinuous curve;And the joy that would come, as I gathered her in,From the nearness of sequins and tennis-tanned skin;And the swing-along, cling-along ring-a-ding dongOf my old part-time job at the Star-Spangled Thong;And the furtive and hopelessly guilt-ridden funOf those poetry-free nights with Miss Joan Hunter-Dunn.Martin Parker/John Betjeman
“When I consider how my life is blestSince, bullied in employment, I’d decideTo leave the civil service; thus I liedAnd claimed I’d lost my sight, yet no one guess’dHow deeply in deception I’d transgress’d,My counterfeit condition would provideA life of ease, it cannot be deny’d,With benefits beside, which serve me bestWhen with a maid; perchance my hand doth stray,’Tis deemed an accident because I’m blind,She little knows my malady is feign’d.The talent that is hidden will repayThe pleasure it doth bring me, for I findThat paradise, once lost, has been regain’d.Sylvia Fairley/Milton
“These city streets are what I knowAnd love, this lively to-and-fro.The countryside lacks neon light.Here, roads are paved and no cocks crow.It is my ‘rural poet’ plightTo be constrained in what I write.The fans want rustic homilies,In which my interest is slight.I’d choose to praise amenitiesLike jazz clubs, wine bars, symphonies,Not stone walls, horses, birds and sheep,Not snowfall-decorated trees.The price I have to pay to keepMy popularity is steep.My hayseed verses are a heapOf junk that makes this grown man weep.Chris O’Carroll/Robert Frost
“There is no joy for me in using rhymeTo mark the measured order of my verse,When every line I write expends more timeOn palt’ring praise of him I daily curse.He is no friend who holds my pen in thrall,Prescribes what I may write and in what fashion,Who must be shown as wise and fair withal,The object of an unabated passion.Cribbed so, my words can never ’scape the pageTo be transformed through breath from ink to air:He bars me from my sweet true love the stageWhere all I have to give the world may share.A poem and a reader form one ring,But linking with the globe, a play’s the thing.W.J. Webster/Shakespeare
“They raised me well, my mum and dad.They taught me love, integrity.They passed along the best they hadBut always let me still be me.I know I wrote the opposite,But that was for the sake of rhyme.Complaining made the metre fit,But I will tell the truth this time:Man hands on joyfulness to man.It deepens like a coastal shelf.Have all the children that you can!I wish I had some kids myself.Robert Schechter/Philip Larkin
No. 3143: love story
You are invited to submit a short story, in the magical realist style, entitled ‘Love in the Time of Covid-19’. Please email entries of up to 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 1 April.