Friday, February 17, 2012

Improvised Cosmologies

John Betjeman Poem

A Sub-Altern's Love Song

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament - you against me!

Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

Her father's euonymus shines as we walk,
And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
To the six-o'clock news and a lime-juice and gin.

The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath,
The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path,
As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.

On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

The Hillman is waiting, the light's in the hall,
The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
And there on the landing's the light on your hair.

By roads "not adopted", by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o'clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
Oh! strongly adorable tennis-girl's hand!

Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I'm engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Lovin' Cohens

Glyn Maxwell Poem

The man who sold Manhattan for a halfway decent bangle,
He had talks with Adolf Hitler and could see it from his angle.
And he heard the Silver Beatles but he didn't think they'd make it
And he bought a cake on Pudding Lane and thought 'well, I'll bake it'
     But his chances they were slim
     And his brothers, they were Grimm
     And he's sorry, very sorry
     But I'm sorrier than him.

And the drunken plastic surgeon who said 'I know! Let's enlarge 'em!'
And the bloke who told the Light Brigade 'Oh what the hell, let's charge 'em!'
The magician with an early evening gig on the Titanic,
And the Mayor who told the people of Atlantis not to panic.
     And the Dong about his nose,
     And the Pobble re. his toes,
     They're all sorry, very sorry,
     But I'm sorrier than those.

And don't forget the bible with the Sodomites and Judas
And Onan who discovered something nothing was as rude as
And anyone who reckoned it was City's year for Wembley
And the kid who called Napoleon a shortarse in assembly.
     And the man who always smiles,
     'Cause he knows I have his files,
     They'e all sorry, truly sorry.
     But I'm sorrier by miles.

And Robert Falcon Scott who lost the race to a Norwegian
And anyone who's ever spilt the pint of a Glaswegian,
Or told a Finn a joke, or spent an hour with a Swiss-German,
Or got a mermaid in the sack and found it was a merman,
     Or he who smelt a rat,
     Got as curious as a cat,
     They're all sorry, deeply sorry,
     But I'm sorrier than that.

All the people who were rubbish when we needed them to do it,
Whose wires crossed, whose spirit failed, who ballsed it up, or simply blew it,
All the notchers of null points and all who have a problem, Houston,
At least they weren't in Kensington when they should have been in Euston,
     For I didn't build the Wall,
     And I didn't cause he Fall,
     But I'm sorry, Lord I'm sorry,
     I'm the sorriest of all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Transylvania Blues

In the year leading up to her death, Betty Gail made regular entries into her diary —often in shorthand, which made them difficult for investigators to decipher.

The first entry Betty Gail wrote while a student at Transylvania University was by far the most in-depth and intimate of those included in the police file.

The Oct. 1, 1960 entry was found by investigators on the pages of an old notebook. The page-long entry details an encounter with a fellow Transylvania student, Richard Berman.

“My 1st college entry,” Betty Gail wrote. “Rick Berman came over to me at the dance tonight. We talked and joked like always, but I knew something was wrong.”

Berman said he wanted to have a serious talk.

“He told me that he thought too much of me, and respected me too much to try to take advantage of me,” she wrote.

The diary entry does not explain what happened between the two students to warrant the talk, but Betty Gail’s words make it out to be something serious.

“He said that he laid awake last night thinking and he had to tell me, though he would not have told any other girl,” she wrote.

Betty Gail was speechless at Berman’s words, “and that is something,” she wrote.

“It will be hard now for me to date other boys,” she continued. “They probably won’t even ask me for a date because of Rick.”

Why she thought that was not explained in the diary entry.

Berman, now a high-powered, well-known figure in Washington D.C. and president of public affairs firm Berman and Company, declined to be interviewed for this story. His spokeswoman did relay in an email that, “he remembers Betty as a very nice girl, but that it was such a long time ago that he remembers very little more than that.”

Thursday, February 2, 2012

G.K. Chesterton Poem

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall.
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbors--on the wall--
Are drawing a long breath to shout 'Hurray!'
The strangest whim has seized me...After all
I think I will not hang myself today.

Tomorrow is the time I get my pay--
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall--
I see a little cloud all pink and grey--
Perhaps the rector's mother will not call--
I fancy that I heard from Mr Gall
that mushrooms could be cooked another way--
I've never read the works of Juvenal--
I think I will not hang myself today.

The world will have another washing day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational--
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small--
I think I will not hang myself today.


Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even today your royal head may fall--
I think I will not hang myself today.