Breaking up is hard to do

9 February 2019

9:00 AM

9 February 2019

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 3084 you were invited to submit a poem entitled ‘Breaking up is hard to do’.
From David Kilshaw’s Brexit-inspired twist on Neil Sedaka — ‘Commons, commons, down, dooby, doo, down down…’ — to Dorothy Pope’s poignant haiku — ‘plum blossom petals/ mistaken now for snowflakes/ so cold is your love’ — this was an inventive and accomplished entry full of witty flourishes. Space is short this week, so without further ado I’ll hand over to the winners below, who earn £25 each.

In Dame Europa’s school the teachers peered
Out at the children thronging the school yard.
The term seemed to have lasted forty years,
But just now, breaking up was rather hard.
Some kids still milled about close by the school.
The French fought with each other on their own.
The German head girl tried to keep control,
But had to lend the Greeks their bus fare home.
The British children dawdled near the road
Hoping someone would tell them what to do.
Some of them cried, others tried to look bold.
Where would they go next term? Nobody knew.
There had been talk of moving to the States,
But with that new head boy? They had to get
A better offer! They all knew the date,
But nobody had come to fetch them yet.
Brian Murdoch

You say you’re leaving? That’s absurd,
how can we live apart?
I’ll take you back — just say the word —
we’ll make another start
For breaking up is hard to do,
I can scarcely bear the pain,
distraught that I’m unable to
persuade you to remain.
I thought I’d take it in my stride,
said ‘let’s negotiate,’
yet two years on, romance has died,
and now we’ve reached stalemate.
Yes, breaking up is hard to do,
I dread the way I’ll feel
when, faced with my entreaties, you
say, scornfully, ‘No Deal’.
Sylvia Fairley

How do I break up? Let me count the ways,
These hopefully might give a lead to you.
With practice you won’t find it’s hard to do,
It’s just a game that every smart girl plays.
I start off quibbling about his looks,
Point out those habits that so irritate,
Then if he wants to plan a special date
Choose box-set TV programmes about cooks.
Next, make him wince in public when I show
Affection that has grown far too intense,
Dredge up some ‘needs’ that lead to great expense
And turn on tears at every answer ‘No’.
Don’t overdo it, just be well rehearsed,
Let him win out by breaking with you first.
Alanna Blake
I decided I would tell her
It was over when we met
But her smile was so enchanting
That it caused me to forget.
Then when summer stopped inspiring
And our winter worries grew
Though I thought of separation
It was very hard to do.
When we had some minor quarrel
And our happiness was gone,
I resolved to say it’s over
Then decided to postpone.
Now we’re sitting in our armchairs
Where our friendship has grown old
And we talk of last October
When we celebrated gold.
Max Ross

Make it easy on yourself, Hal David warns,
Or resentment will be treading on your corns.
Though they said ‘it’s me, not you’, breaking up is hard to do.
So forget the faithless squeeze who gave you horns.
Salve your pride by taking up a new pursuit
Weave some baskets, say, or learn to play the flute.
Jigsaw puzzles are a way of keeping suicide at bay.
Wipe your mind of rueful memories and reboot.
Fill the lonely hours with alcohol and drugs.
As a substitute for all the missing hugs.=
If you’re broke and feeling blue there is always sniffing glue,
And if you’re really desperate chew the rugs.
When your dreams of romance vanish down the loo
And your lifestyle has gone massively askew
It does damage to your brain till you’re thoroughly insane,
But breaking up’s so very hard to do.
Basil Ransome-Davies

Breaking up is hard to do,
especially financially.
Our bank accounts, I am afraid,
will be reduced substantially.
Together we were rich, but now
we’re heading middle-classward.
And so, may I suggest, my dear,
we share one Netflix password?
Robert Schechter


No. 3087: HAIKICK

Brilliant Bill Webster has invented a new form: the haikick. Like the haiku, it’s syllabic, but it adds two lines, making 5/7/5/5/7. The first line is a name. The verse also rhymes, limerick-like: line two with line five, and line three with line four. Its tone is satirical. Here is an example: ‘David Cameron/ offered the people a choice:/ he could not believe/ that they’d vote to leave,/ quite deaf to their master’s voice.’ You are invited to submit your own haikicks, giving them a topical twist (a maximum of three each). Please email entries to by midday on 20 February.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments