The Elephant in the Room
Inspired by 'Countdown' by Alan Weisman
We welcomed it in as an infant:
It seemed very cute way back when.
But now it’s a grey brutish giant,
It’s a bit late to think: Think again.
Its bulk has spilled out to each corner
And it’s damaged each table and chair.
The whole room feels stiflingly warmer
Like it’s breathing the last of the air.
And after it’s cleaned out the larder,
And its trunk has drunk everything dry,
And it’s left us neck-deep in its ordure
Still then we won’t ask ourselves why.
Only when walls all start falling,
The whole house rocks on its foundation,
And even the elephant’s bawling...
Then we’ll discuss population.
We’re looking for a leader, since the former leader’s quit
And we really need somebody who will be a perfect fit:
A candidate who’s fully Democratic to the letter
(And if you are a Liberal than that would be even better).
Dear Applicant, please heed our firm and sensible advice:
If you’re not that tolerant, you maybe should think twice.
Our leader must be fully signed up for equality,
So if that piques your conscience, why not join the DUP?
If you’re rather troubled by what others do in bed,
They’re crying out for vicars. Why not go do that instead?
It’s really not that relevant who is and isn’t sinning.
What we need is someone with an appetite for winning.
The Gap in the Hedge
Some sheep always find the gap in the hedge
And dip into the lane to nibble dock.
Freed from the field, they find a better place
Of open hills and pastures with no end.
Exploring, they go onward, round the bend,
Then looking back there’s no familiar face.
Spooked, they trot back home to join the flock,
Forget they’d ever ventured to the edge.
Pulling the Perse Strings
Dedicated to everybody stuck indoors revising
So, how has Tom been doing since the start of Autumn term?
He tells us he’s been trying hard and we’ve been rather firm
About how much he’s going on the internet at home
Except for when he’s Skyping with a French boy called Guillaume.
We’ve tried to get him up for maybe doing an exchange
But Tom seems quite reluctant, which I’m finding very strange.
His appetite is dwindling and his sleep is getting worse,
So what we want to know is: is he on track for The Perse?
This latest comprehension test he did the other day
His tutor took him through it all and I’d just like to say
That Tom was really anxious that he’d got a lowish score:
He’s used to getting ninety-plus and this was eighty-four.
He wants some more past papers just to put his mind at rest,
To boost his inner confidence so that he does his best.
D’you know whether the passage will be prose or be in verse?
Please tell us how to help him so he gets into The Perse.
The entrance tests are just around the corner and we think
That Tom will thrive on learning how to swim and not to sink.
All his friends are going there, he hates to be left out,
And academic rigour is what he cares most about.
He ought to pass the interview, and though we’re loath to push,
Some practice questions would be great to help him not to blush
And while you’re at it how about some answers to rehearse,
Since standards keep on rising for the entrance to The Perse?
Our biggest worry’s Maths. Tom, darling, wouldn’t you agree?
So the tutor’s had him tackling things beyond GCSE.
(Sadly, I can’t help him with his homework anymore.
I only got an A myself. I know! Terribly poor!)
In your opinion, have the extra sessions upped his grades
Or do we need to book some more and lay it on in spades?
Hard graft’s a thing, you know, to which our Tom is not averse
And all he ever talks about is getting to The Perse!
If he weren’t to get a place there it would really be so cruel.
We just can’t see him fitting in in any other school.
It’s way up in the league tables and wonderfully near...
Sit up, Tom, and listen! It’s for you that we’re all here!
Oundle’s gone too nouveau riche and Rugby’s gone too rowdy
And if he goes to Eton then we’ll have to swap the Audi.
Tom’s heart is set, he’s driven and it’s too late to reverse,
The world will crash around us if he can’t go to the Perse!
Their firebright words lit up the air
In rhythmic reds and rhyming blues.
Unseen, he smiled to sit here where
He'd struck the match that lit the fuse.
After Philip Larkin
The mower conked out. On close inspection, I found
That it had just run out of petrol. Having refilled
With a funnel, I pumped the choke three times
As per the instructions. It started first time
And I was back underway, circumnavigating
Tree trunks, dodging daffodils past their prime.
I didn’t even see a hedgehog, let alone
Kill one. But then I’m not so busy writing poems
That I let the grass grow two feet high.
I may not be a poet. But at least I can mow a lawn
Without slaughtering the wildlife.
Inspired by a trip to Wenlock Priory
Hard to believe every city had one
Once, a hospital like this. (Medicine
Was considered valuable back then.)
Hospitals inspired awe, devotion.
Take a long look at these old foundations
Worn smooth by centuries of erosion.
This building served a huge population
Who thought it the best place to get well in.
These crumbling walls contained things they called ‘wards’
For the ill - or ‘patients’ - as you may have heard
Them referred to. Now it seems quite absurd
That we’d give such care, let alone afford
The vast expanse. They were such wasteful times
Back then. Buildings of this enormous size
Cost a fortune. Debts rose, interest declined.
These monsters were bleeding the country dry.
People no longer sought medical help,
Ignored the outdated doctrines of health
And turned instead to the Cult of the Self:
What else matters, if you’ve still got your wealth?
Finally, they were all shut down by law
And now they just sit here for us to explore.
And children wonder, “Well, what were they for?”
Since nobody sickens or dies anymore.
Rainy day, so an opportunity to start learning some bell-ringing methods. If otherwise flummoxed, turn it into a nonsense poem...
Plain Hunt Doubles
Run to me, for time ticks 123456
To stun your beehive chicks 214356
You draw fun-size twee pics 241536
Score due, I’ve done free kicks 425136
Shore drive: blue sea spun slicks 452316
Strive more, be true, gun clicks 543216
Shrive, be pure, shun blue flicks 534126
We thrive on floor glue fix 351426
See swan dive through your sticks 315246
Son, me too, I've more tricks 132546
Run to me, for time ticks... 123456
We have watched them work through the final frosts
Colouring the branches with their shining calls,
Bright budburst notes wrapped tight and green as moss.
We never saw their eggs, stayed far away
Through the mother’s brooding. With one still eye
She watched us working, till the fourteenth day.
And as we mowed, they came with full-stuffed bills,
To perch, heads cocked, above the squirming nest.
Mouths reached out and wide like daffodils.
Now the nest is empty. The work is done.
And as we mow the lawn again, they sit
In branches, singing green songs in the sun.