Tag Archives: Wendy Cope

Denying the Dealer

Denying the Dealer

A hand on my wrist, two eyes fixed on mine.
He was scrawny, dark-skinned, in a loose-fitting shirt.
He’d seen life in the raw, clambered up from the dirt.
“Come ‘ere, mate.” He whispered; looked quickly around.
He had the edge, now; I’d already lost ground.

He showed me his boxes; watches on display.
“Best quality, mate; yours for five quid today.”
Harassed, all my life, by encounters like these;
my heart was now hardened; immune to such pleas.
My demeanour proclaims me a mild-mannered mug;
but in these scenarios, I am more like a thug.

I was firm, unmoved by his confident spiel.
He persisted, still sure of sealing the deal.
He pushed three boxes into my bag, with a grin.
I pulled them out, gave them straight back to him.
He pleaded: his family, his kids, their needs.
I walked off, impassive, taking no heed.
He pursued me, wildly, eyes now confused.
Again the three boxes; again I refused.

He stood, despairing; looked up at the skies.
I’d seen the look of disbelief in his eyes.
“I had you nailed as a mug, and I’m always right.
You were sure to roll over; no hassle, no fight.
You had the full treatment; the best I could do.
You weirdo! What is it that’s wrong with you?”

I started this blog in April 2012, which means that I’ve been publishing a new poem, every two weeks, for over five years now.  It’s not so easy, to come up with a new poem every two weeks.  From time to time, the wells of creativity run dry, and I admit that I am going through one of those periods at the moment.  I plead this in mitigation for the fact that the above poem – Denying the Dealer – bears a marked similarity to an earlier poem, entitled Dodging the Dealer, that I published in this blog on February 7th 2013.  Following on from my comments in my previous post about how much I admired the comic poems and parodies of Wendy Cope, I started looking back through some of my own attempts at comic poems, and came across Dodging the Dealer.  I thought it could do with quite a bit of revision, and, by the time I’d finished, I thought I’d modified it and stripped it down so much that I could justifiably call Denying the Dealer a completely new poem.  Well, almost!

 

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Trend

Trend

i read
the quarterly bulletin
from
the poetry society

first one poet
then another
then another
and yet another

no capital letters
no indentation
no punctuation

just words
and spaces

is this
a trend

it must be
a trend

perhaps i should start
doing it

before they all start
doing it

words in space
humble art

how it was
at the start

I live in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and often visit Cambridge, to meet friends there, and indulge in nostalgia for my student days.  The city of Ely (the second smallest city in England, apparently) is considerably nearer to Peterborough than Cambridge is, but I rarely go there.  I don’t have any friends who live there, and it’s always been a bit of an unknown quantity for me, despite having a wonderful cathedral that is even more impressive than Peterborough Cathedral.  I finally paid a visit there, a few weeks ago, and found it to be a fascinating place; the only criticism I could make is of the extortionate prices charged in the pubs there for a pint of real ale!  By coincidence, one of the first books I read, after visiting Ely, happened to be by the poet Wendy Cope, who – I found, to my surprise, –  actually lives in Ely.

Wendy Cope is one of my favourite poets, and is famous as a writer of humorous verse and witty parodies.  So, when I received the latest issued of the Poetry Society Bulletin, and found myself reading poem after poem written with no capital letters and no punctuation, my immediate response was to write a parody, as I thought Wendy Cope might do.

 

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Humorous Poetry

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.

Door-Slammers:

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!

 

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