Nursery Rhyme by Kevin Brewer

Ring-a-ring of funeral bells

Throw the pussies down the wells

Ninety people fell and drowned

When London bridge came falling down

.

Ba-ba black sheep’s locked outside

Now the farm’s gone apartheid

Today’s pressures just too much

Humpty Dumpty’s cracking up

.

Jack Horner rings the Sunday Times

Utters a few warning lines

Slams down receiver then he’s gone

Sticks in a thumb explodes a bomb

.

Sitting drinking ginger ale

Duke of York turns ghostly pale

Ten thousand men go up in smoke

Their ashes settle round his cloak

.

Mary Mary quite contrary

Jumps from the eleventh story

Meets the pavement face to face

But makes an impact on that place

.

Pavement artist then takes part

Makes Mary Mary objects d’art

Splattered stone stands in the Tate

With Mary Mary on a plate

.

Sing a song of 50p

Mummy say one more to me

No more no more good night good night

God reaching down turns off the light.

.

.

By Kevin Brewer

‘I Began To Grow Old’ by Alexander Mezhirov

I began to grow old

when I turned forty-four,

and at the eating place on the corner,

I was already taken

for a lonely retiree,

forgotten

by every soul

on earth,

forsaken by his children

and ignored by the rest of his kin.

 

Well, this is the law of life, isn’t it?

Yet I confess

that at first,

Whenever I entered the place

and looked around

for a vacant table,

this circumstance depressed me.

But later

I found in it

the emergency exit in the building called life.

 

Yes, I submerged

into the muffled hubbub of voices

of that place

in almost a cellar,

where my ailing spirit

was strangely healed,

as I carried a pea soup

on a quavering piece of plastic,

a spoon, a fork and a knife,

still dripping,

and a hunk of bread on a plate –

also wet.

 

I came to love

those

crudely panelled

walls,

that line to the counter,

the trays

and the meagre menu card.

‘Blessed are,’

I muttered,

‘Blessed are,

Blessed are,

Blessed are…’

That blessed squalor

I shall never betray.

 

I came to love

the defeat at the game of life,

and the faded traces

of decorations

on old uniforms

and I could now enter

the world of shadows just like another shadow,

without farewell salvos,

solemn faces,

or fuss.

 

by Александр Петрович Межиров (Alexander Petrovich Mezhirov)

a.k.a. Alexandre Petrovitch Mejirov

(1973)

translated by Lev Navrozov