I am currently reading an anthology of humorous poems – “The Funny Side – 101 Humorous Poems” – edited by Wendy Cope. I first came across Wendy Cope when a friend gave me a copy of her first collection of poems “Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis” as a birthday present. It was a good introduction to her work; a mixture of parodies, literary jokes, lyrics and love poems, described in the blurb as “Candid, sometimes erotic, and very funny indeed”. I’ve been a fan of her poetry ever since. The poem that forms the title of the collection – “Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis” – doesn’t appear until the final page, and is a fitting coda:
It was a dream I had last week
And some kind of record seemed vital.
I knew it wouldn’t be much of a poem
But I loved the title.
In her introduction to “The Funny Side”, she writes about how genuinely funny poems “. . . can be enormously helpful at some of the darkest moments of one’s life. Funny writing – not just in poems but in novels, articles and television and radio programmes – has saved my sanity on many occasions. I am at a loss to understand why it is considered less important than unfunny writing.” I completely agree.
It could be argued that my poem “Door-Slammers” is not exactly “humorous”, in that it doesn’t cause the reader to burst out into uncontrollable laughter. Nevertheless, it was intended to be a wry and (hopefully) witty response to the annoying situation I found myself in at the time. It definitely has the feeling of a limerick in its rhythm.
I have door-slammers living next door,
with an incessantly-screaming baby.
The walls are thin; so is my skin.
I feel I’m slowly going crazy.
We are situated on the first floor,
so wretched is my fate;
for we share the same front door
– no wonder they incur my hate.
“SLAM!” goes their flat door;
rapid flurry of feet on stair.
“SLAM!” more loudly, the front door;
leaves me quivering in my chair.
So often this is repeated
in the course of a normal day.
What can I do to prevent it?
Cajole them? Wheedle? Pray?
I speculate upon these door-slammers.
Their motives now become clear.
They slam doors, they also smoke.
They live, in a way, without fear.
“I am here!” – “SLAM!” – “I am gone!”
“SLAM!” – “I am here again!”
Intensity of life is what matters.
Sheer duration, to them, just a pain.
Dramatic exits and entrances;
they light up, then snuff out.
Their lives punctuated by this;
no timidity, caution, doubt.
They don’t care how long the doors last.
They don’t want to live forever.
They don’t think about the poor neighbour,
who’s reaching the end of his tether.
All I hope is they finally feel
some stirring of decent humanity.
This slamming of doors has to cease,
for the sake of my nerves, and my sanity!