Best foot forward

6 January 2018

9:00 AM

6 January 2018

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 3029 you were invited to provide a new year’s resolution (or more than one) in verse.
Woody Guthrie’s 1943 ‘new years rulin’s’ have considerable charm: ‘Dont get lonesome; stay glad; dream good; shine shoes; wash teeth if any…’ But perhaps it was Nietzsche who inspired Basil Ransome-Davies’s entry. In 1882, he resolved to become a yes-man: ‘I do not want to wage war with the ugly. I do not want to accuse, I do not want even to accuse the accusers… I wish to be at any time hereafter only a yea-sayer!’
David Silverman’s spin on Thomas Hood’s ‘No!’ was nice. Alanna Blake, George Simmers and Nicholas Stone also impressed in a strong field. The winners below earn £25 each. Happy New Year!

Winter breathes hope, and not of spring alone.
Ergo, my resolution is to be
A newborn optimist — no more for me
Recrimination, fear or that sour tone
Envious lefties put on to disown
And scorn our heritage so viciously.
Let me commit to Britain, proud and free,
Loyal and chin-up, British to the bone.
Despite Remainers’ carping I feel sure
Of future benefits beyond compare.
Our splendid isolation bids to win
More profit than belonging could procure.
Excessive questioning incites despair;
Doubt is the treacherous enemy within.
Basil Ransome-Davies

This is the year I’ll live my dream.
I’ll sail a cardboard quinquereme
Across the waters of the Humber.
I’ll teach a sheep to dance the rumba.
I’ll paint my genitals magenta
And be an acid rock presenter.
I’ll build an igloo out of piss
And live inside the edifice.
I’ll put the hamster through the blender
And burn my neighbour’s hacienda
To build a pyramid of ash.
All this I will not do for cash
But for the kind of modern art
That oversets the applecart.
So it will come as no surprise
When I obtain the Turner Prize.
John Whitworth
When the nights are filled with storm
When the rain assaults the eaves
Or when the sun dries up the corn
And burns the local stooks and sheaves
When the snowmageddon ploughs
Conk out on the carriageways
When wind rips off the boughs
When caught out by fog or haze
When the crops begin to fail
When the rivers burst with mud
When we take our broken pails
To the standpipes in the flood
And though I may be tempted hard
By tabloid fonts that yell together
From my lips let there be barred
The subject of inclement weather.
Bill Greenwell

May I, in the coming year,
find ways to overcome my fear
of living for twelve months once more
the same life that I lived before
and feeling I must list my flaws
and deal with them in new-made laws
to take effect on New Year’s Day.
Rather, I resolve to stay
the person I already am
while trying not to give a damn
it’s not exactly who I’d be
if I could choose a different me.
Isn’t life to be enjoyed?
And so this year I will avoid
all promises that may involve
determination or resolve.
Robert Schechter
It came to me the other night,
My new year resolution:
Pursue a pastime recondite,
Become a Rosicrucian!
I love the mystique that attends
Arcane fraternities,
Debunks, refreshingly upends
Cliché modernities.
The ancients’ boundless knowledge,
Far superior to ours,
Was not acquired at college
But by studying the stars.
Such were their skills, they could transmute
Base metal into gold;
Now Bitcoin, suspect substitute,
Exerts its stranglehold.
Mike Morrison
My New Year resolutions may seem strange,
But here they are: there’ll be no pussy-grabbing,
No rabid snarling like a dog with mange,
No whining and no incoherent blabbing,
No spiteful tweets, no tantrums, and no lies,
No golfing trips — I’ll buckle down to work,
And if my enemies should criticise,
I’ll do my utmost not to go berserk;
No fictive claims about Obama’s birth;
No childish insults hurled at heads of state;
I’ll combat climate change to save the Earth,
And hope it’s not already far too late.
I’m glad you like my plan… What’s that you say?
‘Gee, thank you, Mr President!’ You chump!
You’re quite mistaken. Get this straight, okay?
I’m Brian Allgar, not that moron Trump!
Brian Allgar


No. 3032: documentary

You are invited to provide a poem about passports. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to by midday on 17 January.

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