dream job: poet or engineer?

Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, London.
ENGINEERS' CORNER
by Wendy Cope

'Why isn't there an Engineers' Corner in Westminster Abbey? In Britain we've always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint . . . How many schoolchildren dream of becoming great engineers?' ~ Advertisement placed in The Times by the Engineering Council

We make more fuss of ballads than of blueprints --
That's why so many poets end up rich,
While engineers scrape by in cheerless garrets.
Who needs a bridge or dam? Who needs a ditch?

Whereas the person who can write a sonnet
Has got it made. It's always been the way,
For everybody knows that we need poems
And everybody reads them every day.

Yes, life is hard if you choose engineering --
You're sure to need another job as well;
You'll have to plan your projects in the evenings
Instead of going out. It must be hell.

While well-heeled poets ride around in Daimlers,
You'll burn the midnight oil to earn a crust,
With no hope of a status in the Abbey,
With no hope, even, of a modest bust.

No wonder small boys dream of writing couplets
And spurn the bike, the lorry and the train.
There's far too much encouragement of poets --
That's why this country's going down the drain.

~ from Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis (Faber & Faber, 1986)

Poets’ Corner (South Transept), Westminster Abbey, London.

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I always enjoy Wendy Cope’s wit and humor, but when she discusses engineers and poets, it really hits home. 

Talk about satire and irony. I’ve been married to an engineer for over 40 years and he’s never frequented “cheerless garrets,” nor has he had to “burn the midnight oil to earn a crust.” These scenarios are more in line with my own experience. 🙂

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Jail Break with Roger McGough and Banksy

“Create Escape” by Banksy
HOW TO ESCAPE FROM PRISON
(using only dental floss, a large potato,
chilli powder and a green felt-tip pen)

by Roger McGough

Rise from your bunk nice and early
because today will be your Big Day.
Remove the dental floss from its handy container
and tie one end around the bars of your cell window.
Leave the rest dangling.

Peel the potato. As you are unlikely to own
a potato peeler or a Swiss Army knife
you must bite into it and break off
little pieces. Spread the mulch around
the floor of your cell nearest to the door.

I bet you know what to do with the felt-tip?
Correct. Draw green spots all over your face,
mess up your hair, then lie down on the bed
and like plague victims do in the films,
make loud wailing noises. You hear footsteps.

Having observed you through the spy hole,
the warder, moved by your pitiful state,
will unlock the door and rush in. Whoosh.
He will slip on the peelings, fall clumsily,
and skid across the length of the floor.

While he lies helpless on his back
like a giant cockroach, throw the chilli powder
into his eyes, and during the confusion,
leap off the bed and tie the loose end
of the floss to the inside handle of the door.

Jump back on the bed and continue to wail.
But be warned, he will be really angry now,
and threatening you with terrible revenge
he will stagger to his feet and storm out,
slamming the heavy metal door behind him.

Magic! The dental floss, suddenly strengthened
and made taut, will tug the bars out of the window,
leaving enough space for you to squeeze through
and drop into the yard below where the helicopter,
engine running, is ready to whisk you off to freedom.

(Helicopter?
Oh yes, I forgot to mention the helicopter.)

~ from That Awkward Age (Penguin Books, 2009)

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So fun! One never knows when these tips might come in handy. 🙂

It seemed a good idea to pair McGough with graffiti artist Banksy, as both are British creatives beloved by the general public. They’ve made poetry and art accessible to the average person with their unconventional ideas, inventive skills, and a lack of pretension.

Banksy painted “Create Escape” on the outside wall of Reading Prison last year. The inmate, shown escaping via a knotted spool of paper from a typewriter, is thought to be Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, who served two years’ hard labor for committing “gross indecency with other men.”

Wilde was sent to the jail in 1895 following a retrial and later wrote his final published work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, highlighting the need for reform of inhumane conditions.

Banksy confirmed the work was his in a video first shared on Instagram, in which he shows himself spray painting stencils at night. In a cheeky twist, he spoofs TV art instructor Bob Ross by overlaying his narration with the night footage.

Fascinating to watch the elusive Banksy creating one of his masterpieces:

Note: In case you do need to break out of prison sometime, Mr Cornelius would be more than happy to lend you his helicopter. 🙂

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Master punster Bridget Magee is hosting the roundup at wee words for wee ones. Take her some dental floss in case she needs to plan her next escape, and while you’re there, check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Have a fun weekend!


*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

watch out for flying sausages

“A unicorn is just a horse with a point of view.” ~ Ron Sexsmith

Ready for a feel good poem?

Just press E-4 on your table top jukebox for yet another witty wonder by Pennsylvania-based poet Edwin Romond. While you’re reading, I’ll polish off my bran muffin.

BIKER DINER SERENADE
by Edwin Romond

I thought the tiny table top juke box
would only play in my booth so I pressed G-6
for a cute little tune, “The Unicorn Song.” But
its first words, There were green alligators
and long neck geese blasted all over the diner
where a biker who’d just ordered the N.R.A Omelet
yelled, “Who in hell played that?” an inquiry
echoed by one with “Build The Wall!” tattooed 
on his biceps. Suddenly there was a diner duet
of Fox News on the TV and the Irish Rovers
singing about humpty back camels.
It was the fellow eating the house special:
ham, pork roll, bacon, and scrapple
with a side order of Spam who pointed me out,
“There he is, he’s the one!” as I tried to hide
behind my egg whites and whole grain muffin
while the entire diner got to hear about all those
silly unicorns laughing and splashing 
as Noah’s ark pulled away. Some bikers
were even moved to prayer and yelled,
“God Almighty! how long is this song?”
as verse after verse blasted through the room
filled with more chains and leather than 
an S&M support group. Amazing
how interminable 3 minutes, eighteen seconds
can seem when you’re dodging sausage links.
The last notes finally filled the greasy air
and my waitress whispered, “They’re gonna
kill you!” so I sneaked out the back door 
after pressing G-6 a second time just in case, 
to make America great again,
they’d like to sing along.

~ from Songs and Singers, © 2018
“Unicorn Rider” by Herr Nilsson (2019)
Continue reading

a rose by any other name may or may not smell as sweet

“I like my name pronounced by your lips in a grateful, happy accent.” ~ Charlotte Brontë

WHY I CHANGED MY NAME
by Phyllis Wax

My father-in-law calls me Lois,
his other son’s wife.

Mail comes addressed to
Phyllis R. or Phyllis M. Wax.
I don’t have a middle initial.

My daughters call me Mom,
my sons-in-law Mother.
To my grandchildren I’m Meme.

To the waitress at the diner
I’m Honey or Dear.

Some people confuse me
with my good friend. To them
I’m Helen.

Today the mailman brought 
some coupons for Yolanda Wax.  
I kind of like that.
Please call me Yolanda.

~ as posted at Your Daily Poem, October 2021

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Had a good laugh reading Phyllis’s Yolanda’s poem. Talk about being able to relate!

Who hasn’t been called all kinds of different names? Maybe we’ve been given special nicknames by family or friends (Auntie Ella called me “Jade,” Lindsay called me “Eloise,” Tanita calls me “jama-j”). Perhaps our significant others use pet names or terms of endearment (Len calls me “Lulu,” “Curly Top,” “Cutie,” or “Shirley” — I call him “Digby”).

Of course many names are shortened for ease or familiarity: “Bob/Bobby” for Robert, “Dick” for Richard, “Liz/Betty/Betsy” for Elizabeth, “Sam” for Samantha. I’ll never understand “Jack” for John or “Harry” for Henry, though. Why not name him Jack to begin with?

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when donuts call your name

“You can’t buy happiness but you can buy donuts. And that’s kind of the same thing.” ~ Anonymous

They’re calling me again. I donut know why I can’t resist them.

Ring, filled, glazed, powdered, frosted with sprinkles — they’ve perfected their siren song. At least I’m not alone in this. 🙂

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“Five Dunkin’ Donuts in a Box” by Beverly Shipko

 

THE YEAR I LIVED ACROSS THE STREET FROM A 24-HOUR DUNKIN’ DONUTS
by Edwin Romond

Each day of each month
like Odysseus with his sirens
I’d hear pastries calling, “Come over! Come over!”
and I’d picture glazed and blueberry
doughnuts, almond croissants and cinnamon
coffee rolls, apple fritters and chocolate
scones, and I feared an international crisis
if I ever said no to a Bavarian cream.
Sometimes at night with the moon white
as a powdered sugar munchkin
I’d wake and worry there was one
lonely toasted coconut doughnut left
in a tray all by himself and charity
would demand I get dressed, cross the street
and eat him. Oh, that year of Christmas
tree cookies, Old Glory sprinkles
on 4th of July muffins, and the faith
inspiring Ash Wednesday hot cross buns
that made me thank God for counter girls
who saved my seat by the window, bakers
who took midnight requests, and for Macy’s
who sold expandable stretch waist jeans.

~ This poem first appeared in The Stillwater Review

First Dunkin’ Donuts shop opened in Quincy, Massachusetts (1950)

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Since Dunkin’ Donuts originated in New England, it’s fitting that I had my first official DD there — in Bedford, New Hampshire, to be exact.

We were newly married and visiting Len’s family. I remember my father-in-law raving about DD’s coffee and chicken noodle soup. He never mentioned the donuts, though. It seems going out for DD coffee on a Saturday morning was THE thing to do.

We often stayed at Len’s brother’s house, and one morning Len picked up a box of munchkins for breakfast. Up until then, my little nephew — he might have been 2 or 3 years old at the time — had never eaten donuts in any form. Of course he LOVED them, calling them “Nonuts.” We didn’t know then that my SIL had been restricting his sweets. Oops.

So my first Dunkin’ Donut was actually a plain glazed munchkin, and I’ve been hooked ever since. They’re small and (you gotta admit) cute. There’s less of a guilt factor too. Whoever decided to call those donut holes “munchkins” was absolutely brilliant. Such an adorable name. There might even be scientific proof that eating munchkins makes you cuter. 😀

I love Romond’s poem because it’s so relatable. Though I’ve never lived right across the street from a donut shop, just having a Dunkin’ Donuts in the same town is dangerous enough. My highly refined donut radar can pick up those siren signals within a 30 mile radius, at least. So whenever I hear the cry of a cruller, the moanings of a marble frosted, or the lamentations of a long john, I feel it is my civic duty to come to the rescue. I know they long to be eaten. I just want to make them happy.

I would certainly not want to be the last and lonely toasted coconut donut left on the tray. Poor thing. I may be cowardly with some things, but putting donuts out of their misery isn’t one of them. Mine, like Mr. Romond’s, is a noble calling.

Mr Cornelius rescues a toasted coconut donut.

 

What’s your favorite donut? 🙂

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The lovely and talented Tara Smith is hosting the Roundup at Going to Walden. Take her a chocolate frosted donut and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Have a nice weekend (eat lots of DONUTS)!

 

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If they’re good enough for him, they’re good enough for me.


Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.