Country Life readers’ poems 2010

Bard of Armagh
Minutes of the Finals ( in poetic form, 1st revision. )  
Armagh Nov 20th 2009

‘Twas winter in old Armagh town
When Ireland’s poets gathered round
To see who might, by dint of wit
Delight the crowd and all in it
Reciting the most witty ditty
To brighten good St. Patrick’s city

The Makem boys had set the stage
And lit the lights and turned the page
To set before the poets, all
A crowd they could with verse enthrall
A thousand souls were soon enraptured
By tales poetically captured

“To order” soon the crowd was called
By Pearse Mcbride in that great hall
A gracious welcome then he gave
To all who winter storms did brave
To lend support on this cold night
And keep poetic flames alight.

Upon that Armagh City stage
Poetic wars did soon engage
The travails of the country life
Age, youth, the drink, a problem wife
All grist for these poetic mills
‘Neath Pat’s cathedrals on two hills.   

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The first contestant, Wexford Bob
Warned of the way a girl could rob
A man of freedom and could alter
His life with the “Matrimonial Halter”  

Martine O’Callaghan then spoke
Of dangers, now, of going broke
And how you might eat grass for lunch
If you’re caught in the credit crunch

Jo Kelly from Dungiven followed
To warn that small men could be swallowed
By women who, at first a treasure
Can soon become too big to measure

Rose Twohig’s “Poteen Well” appealed
To all who’ve from this liquor reeled
Her auld Da never got a sip
But, happily, got a poteen drip.   

Sean Lyons’ problems buying britches
Soon had the crowd in mirthful stitches
Though thoughts of Sean in silken thong
Sent squirming shock waves through the throng.

From Keady Don McKenna hailed
And expertly the crowd regaled
With rhymes concerning growing old
“Too many birthdays” he’d been told

Joan Rooney’s energetic ode
Had poteen drunk upon the road
By Paddy on his way to town
And how that liquor brought him down

Not from his bed, but from below
Ettie Kilbride brought Packie’s ” po”
Which told us of poor Packie’s trouble
When single life ended in double.

(This talk of functions biological
Meant that it was, at this point, logical
For all to take a “bio-break”
So for the doors we swift did make.)  
When play resumed, wee Loughgall man
Jim Rafferty came to the stand
And tried his title to regain
Describing people on the train      
A video from Van Diemen’s land
Was blighted by the gremlin’s hand
So Peter Mace’s photo story
Was no threat to ” commuter glory” .

Collette, from Keady, told us why
The revolution passed her by
So she and all her worldwide sisters
Are still in chains, slaves of their “misters”  

The 08 bard , Liam NcNally
Then rhymed a very hum’rous tally
Of fifteen souls and how they fed
And cabbage sangwiches in bed

Last up, the elder, Pat McGinn
Admitted to his life of sin
And warned us that we’d pay for all
When “Golden Years” became our stall.  

The judges rose and left the scene
To argue about who had been
The master poet on the night
Which one had really “got it right”?
It wasn’t long ‘til they returned
The top two bards were then confirmed
‘Twas Jim and Liam at the top
But Liam took the winner’s spot.

By this, I hope that you can tell
The Bard of Armagh’s doing well
There’s talent here for many years
To keep you laughing through your tears.

John Allen. The Bard of Mullentine (and Official Emergency Poet)     

A den of rhymes

‘I’d like you to meet a Poet from Bath’.
‘Oh Lord, I’ve fallen in a den of rhymes
Where some will cling to the past, beat a path
Back to dogg’rel with dear Dad at bedtimes.’

In my snug bed of rhymes I will oft-times
Be found, it’s true, for a part of the day,
So I am pleased to note that their moan rhymes
When trendy fans of Free Verse say ‘No way!

Rhyming is obsolete, hints of decay;
No one today uses that any more!
It matters not whether you’re straight or gay,
Everyone knows that rhymes are a real bore!’

In my lair are fine Rhymesters I adore:
Masefield and Marvell, Blake, Betjeman and Burns;
Memorable verse, and there’s so many more
Whom I suspect that my Free Verse friend spurns.

‘I find that outdated Rhyming Verse turns
My stomach, for it’s right out of the Artk.
Bald and decrepit Old Mark never learns
How in this day and age to make his mark.’

Maybe it’s true and I’m still in the dark,
Clinging to what’s secure, ordered and flows.
Yet there’s one question that nags, asking ‘Hark!
Why does so much Free Verse sound so like Prose?’

‘What does it matter when anything goes?
Rhyming and scanning concentrate the mind
And can be taxing, as everyone knows.
Free Verse is…well, free and so unconfined.’

Trying to find the exact word that rhymed
Making verse memorable, which doesn’t drag
The poem down – is a challenge I find.
Free Verse is unrestrained without this snag.
The Elite Poets Who Know – do not flag
From judging that Free Verse has to be best.
Sadly Joe Public finds their stuff a drag,
‘We’re unimpressed, it’s so hard to digest.’

By Mark Sayers, 2008

New Year Greetings

Ring out the bells on the midnight hour
Welcome the year for the joy it brings
But why harry the old on the cusp of the new?
Hasn’t the old been good to me and you?
For some it’s been awful, tragic to a fault
But wasn’t there gold amongst the dross?
Laughter midst the tears?
And of this new year?
The unknown always engenders fears
Brings hardship and trouble
Maybe horrid days ahead
And partings
Even departures to distant shores
But that desire for success lies deep within
Between the difficulties, there will be good days
Life’s inherent duty thrusts us forward
To fully live the life He gave
His gift of life, which we must not evade
So for the good days to come
The bad day which follow
The happy greetings and joyful welcomes
To all and everyone
A Happy and peaceful New Year

Margaret Halstead, Oxfordshire