Poem of the Year

A poem of the year is painfully self-revealing. The poet’s sense of humour, politics, and perceptions of the world are all vividly illuminated in the crosshairs of evolving, forced creativity, or so the theory goes. The temptation to go back and rewrite is hard to resist.

It was the late and incredibly great Mr. Clive James who said, “it’s unpredictability that makes writing a poem of the year so irresistible”. He was right. This verse chronicle should unfold daily, capturing the wrinkles of the world around us in ottava rima – using 10 or 11 syllables in each line, more or less – and some days there’ll be one verse, others there’ll be two. Much like Mr. James, the aim is to keep the work light. Unlike Mr. James, I have no editors or readers to pick holes in the veracity of these poetic threads. Lucky me.

Norfolk, 31.12.2019

While Swedish aphorisms miss their mark
And barricades bring Baghdad to its knees,
Smoke-filled skies turn the daylight into dark.
Marsupials burn in eucalyptus trees.
No grand fire works without a trail of sparks,
Jools’s Big Band cannot put us at our ease.
Who gives two hoots for Hootenanny nannies.
Who’ve curfewed all the local Scottish grannies.


From Mustique, where he is on his holidays.
de Pfeffel sends us his finest fond regards
Picasso’s lover offends a vandal’s gaze,
A woman’s bust is defaced and left with scars.
When Francis slaps a woman’s hand away,
Il Papa has his reputation marred.
Still, down under, in an up-and-over fire,
Australians face a catastrophic pyre. 


Though personal data should be kept anon,
A bot can check now for cancer in my breast.
The Nissan boss has escaped to Lebanon,
He’ll face the music, his song is by request.
A true vegan to a Norwich court has gone,
His true beliefs and philosophy to test.
Sky lanterns fall. They ignite a German zoo.
Too much on fire. Maybe Dante’s got a clue.


The Donald has called an airstrike on Baghdad,
The whole Twittersphere erupts in mock surprise,
Remembering Franz, the Archduke Ferdinand,
As the General, Qasem Soleimani, dies.
Oh, the humanity; seeing good in bad.
Oh, the insanity; chasing votes with lies.
The stain on stars and stripes is more than just crude.
Democracy is trumped. Allied troops are screwed.


Westminster stirs and the team has a new theme,
The Dom has written a blog to find recruits,
He wants misfits and weirdos on his core team,
Instead of bored, straight-laced civil service suits,
The Lib Dems, seeking something more mainstream,
Make headlines out of Pan’s forbidden fruit,
And unassuming Meat Loaf, still quite able,
Takes burning bridges back to Trump’s top table.


Tomorrow, the tribes return to work again,
Lethargic, depressed, and full of Twixtmas food,
The excess of ChrimboLimbo seems insane,
While food bank policies scream ineptitude.
Elections should change this, democracy ordains.
But no, here comes Labour, with a new internal feud.
Damn myopic politics, still so aplenty.
We’re only five days in to twenty-twenty.


There goes Ricky, cracking jokes at their expense;
A golden monologue though the truth does hurt,
Meanwhile Trump, and so presumably Mike Pence,
Tweets an announcement that puts troops on alert.
Fifty-two targets are his cultured offence,
A war crime in the making, sanity girt,
Tears of an ayatollah in grief are shed.
A nation in mourning for a hero, dead.


The National Archives are changing the way
They let people order which items to see.
Just twenty-four items to view in one day
Will set back all research on our history
Conspiracy theorists says this is foul play,
By consultants who charged a nominal fee.
Our future depends on our records, amassed.
There’s so very much to learn from the past.

Lipreading firemen of Ozzie persuasion
Is rough when all they want is lots more rainfall.
Still, star-studded backlash is quite a big thing
And reviews of Joaquin’s tux were so painful.
Perspective. We all need a new plaything.
Defective. Our media is disdainful.
That funeral, so marred by forty deaths.
Makes ’New European’ is an old shibboleth.


The President steps out to fanfares and cheers,
Like an Apprentice who has won this week’s task,
De-escalation speeches fall on deaf ears,
So Baghdad’s new Green Zone gets rocketed fast,
Iran won’t release Boeing’s black box for years.
Despite the suspicions about missile blasts.
Meanwhile, MPs declare their four-clause intent.
Fuck sovereignty. Business. Workers. And students. 


Harryverderci, Sussex. So badly done.
At least get a listing on HeirB’n’B.
It’s hard being a fresh Prince, the second son.
And Windsors have poor form with shock mutinies,
Her Majesty did not deserve to be shunned,
Beware: it is the press who shape legacies.
’Suited and booted’ – just one headline unused.
I do wonder if this has been well thought through.


The wolf moon. A penumbral lunar eclipse
Looks down on nations that will not compromise
Until they are all agreed on the same scripts
For Iran’s acts one, two, three, four, and five.
A shroud of deceit, the new apocalypse
Is a commitment to truth that deals in lies.
One rocket. One flight. How long could they fake
The fact that they’ve made a horrendous mistake?


Confirmed. I called it. Even Canada knew.
The innocent sacrifice was plane to see.
By contrast, a war film is getting previews
That nod toward Oscars and ceremonies.
A new Sultan lives, but the sadness is news
Of a great Sultan’s death. No hyperbole.
Qaboos poured oil on Oman’s troubled waters.
Middle Eastern mourners. Sons and daughters.