In Competition No. 3174 you were invited to write a poem in which each line begins with the letters A S D F G H J K L Z X C V B N M, in that order.
One entry began: ‘Asinine/ Stupid/ Dumb/ Fatuous…’, and continued in a similar vein; a comment, perhaps, on my decision to set this comp. But despite the rumbles of discontent, the challenge produced a terrific showing: varied, witty and technically accomplished. Honourable mentions go to Shawn Chang, Hugh King, R.M. Goddard and Brian Murdoch. In a hotly contested week, the winners below snaffle £25 each.
Auden loved a dying fall,
Spender not so much.
Dryden was — well, rather dry,
Frost wall-eyed and such.
Ginsberg? Whitman’s long-lost son,
Howling like a pup.
Joyce sold Pomes Penyeach.
Keats bigged beauty up.
Lowell sinned, confessed in verse,
Zapped by drugs and drink.
Created quite a stink.
Vaughan was holy, isn’t it?
Byron deeply not.
Noyes annoys when not just dull.
Milton tops the lot.
An archetype too weird to work —
Setting off with Q not A —
Destined just to fade away
Forgotten as a cranky quirk.
Granted that it was so flawed,
How did that order of the keys
Jog gently on with perfect ease,
Knocking rivals off the board?
Look how it rose above so much —
Zany Letrasetting whimsy,
Xerox, carbon paper, flimsy,
Computers turning tap to touch…
Veteran as a typing tool
But ever for adopting change,
No way now disdained as strange,
May QWERTY’s layout always rule!
Across the qwerty keyboard of my heart
Strike digits briskly spelling out desire,
Desire your smallest tap-tap will jump-start,
For your touch is the type my nerves require.
Good loving is a nimble-fingered game.
Have at me with your practice and precision,
Jolt me in high-speed bursts with pinpoint aim,
Key in coordinates for sweet collision.
Let orthographical dexterity
Zestfully spell allure in every line,
X-rating to the last extremity,
Collating your adult consent with mine.
Vistas of romance open to your skill.
Bonanzas of love’s wordplay multiply.
Neatly your click-clack crafts an unkempt thrill.
My pulse surrenders as your fingers fly.
A gentleman of Hertfordshire,
So self-sufficient, at my ease,
Drifting, book-buoyed, by my fire,
Floating over distant seas…
Gaffed, now, pulled from gentle waters,
Harried to oblige my daughters:
Jane and Lizzie — each has caught a
Knave of Hearts — a fell disease.
Languid library landfalls call me
Zephyrs ease my fancies east,
Xebec-borne… yet women haul me
Captured like some sullen beast,
Vexed and pecked, to conversations,
Balls and beaux and expectations,
Nurturing the imploration:
Marry those I’ll miss the least.
Ask for trouble
Seize the day
Dig for victory
Feel your way
Hold the fort
Keep it short
Live for others
Zip your lips
X is secret
Count your chips
Vow your silence
Now or never
Man the pump
A: You’re abhorable,
S: So deplorable,
D: You’re the devil in disguise.
Feds have a file on you;
God doesn’t smile on you;
Hubris will see you cut to size.
J stands for Judgment Day:
Karma is on its way;
Lurking, your Nemesis awaits!
Zealots may vote for you,
Xenophobes and racists too —
Can you manipulate the Fates?
Voting is over: they’ve had their say,
Beating the drum for the USA,
Never forgetting that old refrain:
Making America Grate Again.
No. 3177: back chat
Novelists sometimes say their characters seem to take on a life of their own. You are invited to submit a well-known fictional person’s view of their author (please specify). Email entries of up to 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 25 November. We pay winners by cheque, unless you state on your entry that you would prefer to be paid by bank transfer.
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