A Life by R.S. Thomas

Lived long; much fear, less

courage. Bottom in love’s school

of his class; time’s reasons

too far back to be known.

Good on his knees, yeilding,

vertical, to petty temptations.

A mouth thoughts escaped

from unfledged. Where two

were company, he the unwanted

third. A Narcissus tortured

by the whisperers behind

the mirror. Visionary only

in his perception of an horizon

beyond the horizon. Doubtful

of God, too pusillanimous

to deny him. Saving his face

in verse from the humiliations prose

inflicted on him. One of life’s

conscientious objectors, conceding

nothing to the propaganda of death

but a compulsion to volunteer.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Experimenting with an Amen (1986)

 

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Once it was the Colour of Saying by Dylan Thomas

Once it was the colour of saying

Soaked my table the uglier side of a hill

With a capsized field where a school sat still

And a black and white patch of girls grew playing;

The gentle seaslides of saying I must undo

That all the charmingly drowned arise to cockcrow and kill.

When I whistled with mitching boys through a reservoir park

Where at night we stoned the cold and cuckoo

Lovers in the dirt of their leafy beds,

The shade of their trees was a word of many shades

And a lamp of lightning for the poor in the dark;

Now my saying shall be my undoing,

And every stone I wind off like a reel.

 

by Dylan Thomas


Fun Facts: ‘Mitching’ is Skivving, bunking, skipping school.

Moithered by Mike Jenkins

She used it totally out of place

but natural as calling an infant ‘Babes!’

The poet’s moithered by all that pollution

like herself annoyed at my constant questions.

 

The word was her, chewing-gum twirler

giving so much lip and jip,

a desk-scribbler stirrer

using her tongue as a whip.

 

It was perfect for flustered:

I could imagine the artist

as all the complex phrases whirred

and churned, his hair in a twist.

 

No examiner could possibly weight it,

no educationalist glue and frame it:

it leapt out like her laughter

and my red mark was the real error.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Red Landscapes

Moithered by Mike Jenkins

She used it totally out of place

but natural as calling an infant ‘Babes!’

The poet’s moithered by all that pollution

like herself annoyed at my constant questions.

 

The word was her, chewing-gum twirler

giving so much lip and jip,

a desk-scribbler stirrer

using her tongue as a whip.

 

It was perfect for flustered:

I could imagine the artist

as all the complex phrases whirred

and churned, his hair in a twist.

 

No examiner could possibly weigh it,

no educationalist glue and frame it:

it leapt out like her laughter

and my red mark was the real error.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Red Landscapes

Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps copying my work, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Go and sit in the hall, dear.

Go and sit in the sink.

Take your books on the roof, my lamb.

Do whatever you think.

 

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps taking my rubber, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Keep it in your hand, dear.

Hide it up your vest.

Swallow it if you like, love.

Do what you think best.

 

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps calling me rude names, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Lock yourself in the cupboard, dear.

Run away to sea.

Do whatever you can, my flower.

But don’t ask me!

 

by Allan Ahlberg

Just Supposing by Eric Finney

Supposing…

A sinister spacecraft came down on the field,

And a hatch in the saucer slid back and revealed –

A nightmare of Martians, all grey and green streaks,

And they each had three legs and three eyes and three beaks!

Then, wobbling weirdly, one came right across

And in Martian demanded to speak to the boss.

So we led him in school, to the headmaster’s door,

And we knocked, and he opened, and then when he saw –

His eyeballs fell out with a plop on the floor!

 

Or supposing…

A crack opened up in the soccer field grass,

And rapidly grew to a yawning crevasse,

And the school was engulfed in the awful abyss:

The goalposts, the classrooms, the teachers – all this

Went helplessly into that opening jaw,

All hurting down towards earth’s fiery core,

And everything burned to a crisp – except me,

I escaped from the furnace. But how? Let me see…

I felt the inferno; came close to heart-failure!

But I fell through the world and came out in Australia!

 

by Eric Finney

Zonky Zizzibug by Brian Patten

I’ve just appeared in this classroom

I did not use the door.

I have just materialized

Through the classroom floor.

 

Do not call me a liar.

Do not call me a cheat.

No, teacher cannot see me,

Sitting in this seat.

 

My name is Zonky Zizzibug.

I don’t know why you laugh.

This book is not a comic,

It’s an extra-terrestial graph.

 

I don’t care what you say.

Oh please don’t be a bore!

I did just materialize.

I did not use the door.

 

I have an anti-matter,

Anti-gravity device.

I also have a pill

For turning schoolboys into mice.

 

Do not call me a liar.

Do not call me a cheat.

You are not imagining things.

Do not blame the heat.

 

I have been to Venus.

I have been to Mars.

I’ve even been to Uranus.

And several other stars.

 

Of course my blood is green!

The aerial on my head?

Oh that’s just something

That stops me being dead.

 

How dare you laugh and scoff!

Shush. Everyone will hear.

Look, now teacher’s giving you

A very funny stare.

 

I won’t say I’m Zonky zizzibug.

I am going to go away.

I’m only allowed to play on earth

for a single day.

 

I’m going to drift round the classroom.

I’m going to float up in the air.

Then I’m going back off home

Because laughing is not fair.

 

I won’t become visible.

I won’t float down from the shelf.

I do not care if teacher

Thinks you are talking to yourself.

 

by Brian Patten