The Lockdown Lament

This one needs no introduction…

The Lockdown Lament

“Oh to spend time with the family!
Freed from our offices! Freed from our schools!
Imagine the hours of harmony!”
That’s what we said, we ignorant fools.

Have you ever tried video-calling New York
to talk about trends in a businessy way
while your kids disembowel the cat with a fork
and your husband walks by with his goods on display?

Have you ever tried tempting the kids from their screens
to do papier-mâché or make lemonade
or have ‘fun with a workout’ (whatever THAT means)
while they pelt you with attitude, grunts or grenades?

Have you ever tried teaching a nine-year-old maths
and a five-year-old spelling whilst muffling a scream
as you realise you’re living with sociopaths?
‘Is this it?’ you enquire. ‘Am I living the dream?’

“Oh to spend time with the family!
Freed from our offices! Freed from our schools!
Imagine the hours of harmony!”
That’s what we said, we ignorant fools.

 

 

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Upwards


Maybe it’s the dim midwinter light, but January seems to be dedicated to  taking a rather harsh view of ourselves. In reality, most of us are already doing our best with a lot, and need to be taking on not more, but less.

Well, at least until cloning machines are up and running.

Upwards

I am scaling a mossy wall
whilst plate-spinning
and playing the bagpipes.

[On distant asphalt, a
side-plate smashes.]

Before I know it, it’s January 1st.
“I will now also paint
the wall as I climb!” I proclaim.

[My bagpipes flail
like a spent lung.]

The wall giggles.
“You should have just vowed
to grow more hands,” it says.

[I kick the wall.
Descent is rapid.
Cancel the paintbrushes.]

 

Geek notes: I don’t often post free verse here because, er, domain name. But I do enjoy a little tango on the free side from time to time. As far as I’m concerned, keep it surreal, and it’s OK.

 

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If laundry be the food of love

If laundry be the food of love

Because it never ends…

If laundry be the food of love

If laundry be the food of love
then my love’s food is abundant,
crammed into its glutted mouth
with potions grim and pungent.

If laundry be the food of love
then I am served with plenty.
May ketchup pour on shirts galore
so my platter’s never empty.

 

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Napkin Rings

I wrote this for women (and men, but mostly women) everywhere who are massively overstretched by the million details of Christmas – and by their own, and others’ expectations of perfection.

I’m personally not a napkin rings sort of a girl, and my husband cooks the Christmas dinner, so the “I” in the poem is not me.

Me, I just try to get the basics of Christmas done – and that is stressful enough.

Napkin Rings

This is the season of love’s ascendency.
Zealously measured by each carolling eye,
love is wrapped, trussed, and sacrificed to the tree.
My love is napkin rings, time spent, and a sigh.

In the grim drive for the prescribed contentment,
I creak under wreaths and jaunty snowman lights.
My love is napkin rings, concealed resentment
and the surfeiting of sugared appetites.

It’s not the love of photo-story yearning;
my love is napkin rings, mistletoe and cheer,
aching arches, and the dream of adjourning
to the welcoming cloisters of the new year.

My love is napkin rings, endless and florid,
and as angels beam from ceramic altars,
I defile the turkey, and stem the torrid
outpourings of aunts. My smile never falters.

 

Geek notes: This is a syllable-counted poem. Although this poem is unmetered, the even number of syllables across each line (eleven, in this case) creates a feeling of symmetry without interrupting the poem’s conversational style. It’s also a variation of the “quatern” form, where a repeated line moves from line 4 to line 3 to line 2 to line 1 in the four successive stanzas.

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Measure the Children

The increasingly Orwellian nature of education in this country inspired me to write this. Despite the best efforts of some wonderful teachers, it seems that the emphasis  is firmly on conformity and performance – as if our children were washing machines off a production line.

If it helps by the way, I picture “the meddlers” as being little oompah-loompah-crossed-with-Michael-Gove figures  – but please don’t have nightmares about that!

Measure the Children

The school was a cauldron of mischief and learning,
and children were children, their impish minds turning,
until, at the will of political men
came an army of meddlers with rulers and pens
squealing “measure the children, measure them!”

“Let art be abandoned! Let music be killed!”
cried the meddling ones, “There are forms to be filled!”
Then they pored over stories of magical horses
impatiently counting subordinate clauses
to measure the children, measure them.

“More!” they screamed, hurling out brain-popping sums
while the tape measures tangled small fingers and thumbs,
“Forget curiosity! Curb innovation!
We’re sending your teachers for recalibration…
Measure the children, measure them!”

We strive for a future where oneness prevails,
but there’s no place for play on the measuring scales,
and as tables and tests burn the light from their eyes,
we say “Hush, little citizens, think of the prize…”
and measure the children, measure them.

 

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Bobbing Mummy

Is anyone else more than a little bit broken from PICKING SHIT UP?!

Bobbing Mummy

If you knock something from the shelf,
No need to pick it up yourself!
Just leave it there upon the floor –
Whatever else is Mummy for?
Bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

What joy, a new construction set,
With bits that are the smallest yet!
Mummy’s here! It doesn’t matter!
Open box, prepare to scatter!
Bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

Got a wrapper in your hand?
Don’t worry! Drop it where you stand!
Perhaps your paper missed the privy?
Don’t despair! You have a skivvy!
Bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

Mummy has an education,
Wild ideas above her station,
Visions of equality,
I know right? That’s insanity!
She’s bobbing bobbing bobbing Mummy,
Bobbing bobbing Mummy.

 

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On Being Offered Cheese As A Dessert

OK – I’m going to say it – I’m not the world’s greatest fan of cheese. (Some people literally can’t handle this information, but I’ll press on.) I quite like an emmental or a mild cheddar but beyond that? Not a fan. So the thought of passing up a treacle tart in favour of some manky old sheep’s curd… well it blows my mind.

On Being Offered Cheese As A Dessert

THAT is a curd that forms on an inert
tub of old rancid milk – it is NOT a dessert,
It is NOT a dessert, so don’t lie to me please,
It is cheese.

That bit is stinky and that bit is crusty,
You’re trying to be funny! You’re joking! You must be!
Cos that bit is mouldy and that bit is goaty,
If this is a dream, then please somebody poke me…

How can a fatberg with crackers exert
The appeal of a pie – it is NOT a dessert,
It is NOT a dessert, it’s an udder that sneezed,
It is cheese!

I‘m craving some custard all yummy and creamy,
A big chocolate brownie, deliciously dreamy,
The hot toffee pudding! So silky! So steamy!
Just bring on the sugary goodness and FEED ME!

Well, I say “cam-em-bare” and you say “cam-em-burt”,
Doesn’t alter the fact – it is NOT a dessert,
It is NOT a dessert – Just like pork! Just like peas!
IT IS CHEESE!

 

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Claire from Customer Care

We have precious little time on this beautiful Earth, and there is nothing I resent more than having to spend it jumping through hoops all in the name of “customer service”. Sitting on hold, explaining things three times to people in different departments, listening to protracted terms and conditions scripts, or – my favourite – “passing security”. (Next time, you’re told that you’ve passed security, do what I do – cheer. They never know what to do with that.)

Anyway, I parcelled up all my frustrations, stuffed them all into a poetic person known as Claire from Customer Care, and vented.

Claire from Customer Care

I can’t come out tonight,
I’m on with Claire from customer care,
Who is voicing my pointless choices,
As my ears bleed despair.

I can’t come out tonight,
I’m finding my ideal tariff
with just ten sections of soul-sucking questions,
As my hopes vanish.

I can’t come out tonight,
I’m ticking terms and conditions,
Poring over each torturous clause,
While The Reaper’s steps quicken.

I can’t come out tonight,
I’m completing a quick questionnaire,
Assessing my satisfaction with that interaction
with Claire from customer care…

And my starving eyes… just stare.

I should have gone out tonight,
Instead, to the beat of on-hold music,
I lose it.

 

© Nina Parmenter 2018

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School Sport

This a “concrete” poem – a poem shaped like the thing it’s describing. If it doesn’t look like the picture above, turn your phone on its side or get a larger device (wink wink). Now – gym knickers on, and let’s proceed.

School Sport

.                       School sport,                                           Tick tock,
.              simply a torture form                                 Tick tock,
.           a notch or five above the                           Oh watch
.        norm, the most horrendous                      the clock,
.        cruelty designed specifically                  When will
.          for me, who has no puff &                    this finish,
.            cannot aim – picked last                     this quest
.               in every single game:                      to pillage
.                       School sport.                             pride and
.                                                                              joy and all
.                                                                            respect??
.                                                                          In half my
.                                                                        lifetime, I
.                                                                      expect, as
.                                                                    this is just
.                                                                  a wheeze
.                                                                to squash
.                                                              my will, to
.               bring me                     to my knees;
.                  for sticks and balls may hurt
.                      us all, but double games
.                                will break me.

 

© Nina Parmenter 2018

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Last Tussle in Brussels

Unfortunately, I thought it was time for a Brexit poem. But as the whole thing is a complete farce, I thought I’d make my poem a bit of a farce too (I mean, it could happen, but…)

Last Tussle in Brussels

Somewhere in Brussels, March 2019,
Poor Theresa’d not slept since about Halloween,
But at last it was ready! The dream Brexit treaty,
Which pleased every spluttering zealot so sweetly!

So ready to sign it, she tried not to squeal…
Until Boris burst in and cried “NO BLOODY DEAL!”
Theresa yelled “shut it, you haystack-haired chancer!”
But Europe said “sorry, we’ll take your first answer!”

Then Macron and Barnier, Merkel and Juncker,
Cried “See ya, Theresa, we’re off to the bunker!”
Theresa gave chase; Boris stuck out a toe,
The Jimmy Choos buckled, and down she did go!

The bunker shut! Pawing the intercom button
And licking the speaker, she heard them all tutting,
Then Merkel said “Vile vee regret ze estrangement,
Zey cannot exist vizout formal arrangement!”

Theresa was screaming “JUST LET ME IN NOW!”
But she could have sworn Barnier cried out “KA-POW!”
Then she felt a great shake like the boom of a bomb –
And her satellite glasses showed… Britain was gone!

Well, after some hours of wailing and gnashing,
They found little Britain complaining and splashing
and shivering up by the cold Arctic Circle…
“Best wrap up vorm!” tittered Angela Merkel.

———————————————-

We last saw Theresa all sun-kissed and blustery,
Hiking the warm Euro hillsides of Tuscany,
Boris was found (well was dug up in parts),
With a hot Belgian waffle stuck right up his arse…

As for Britain – it’s time in the cold had begun,
The crops slowly died in the thin arctic sun,
Til a hobbit named Corbyn cried “Right! Who needs feeding?!”
And was hailed as a God with his frost-hardy seedlings.

And somewhere in Dudley, a “leaver” called Norris,
Polished his gold-plated statue of Boris,
And petting his bulldog (with hands somewhat frozen),
He gave a wry smile, and said, “that bloody showed ‘em.”

 

© Nina Parmenter 2018

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