Tag Archives: light verse

Ode to an Idol

I wrote some really terrible poetry when I was a teenager. In amongst all the mawkish dross there are only a couple of poems that I’m prepared to own up to having written, and this is one of them. I’m not exactly sure when I wrote it, but I think it was around the age of 18. The idol of the title is John Taylor of Duran Duran, whose poster I had on my wall for a while. Well, okay – a few years. What was I thinking?! 😀


There he hangs on the wall of my bedroom,
Incomplete, just his torso and head.
And in case one dark night magic brings him to life,
He’s strategically placed by the bed!

Up ’til now he’s remained unresponsive
To the kiss he receives every day,
Yet I still find him strangely attractive,
In a flat, two-dimensional way.

What would be the reaction, I wonder,
Of this man, who’s seen models undressed
Glimpsing me in my bri-nylon nightie?
I doubt if he’d be too impressed.

He’s unlikely to get all excited
At the sight of my goose-pimpled skin
Clad in heavyweight undies from Tesco’s
As I squeeze out a spot on my chin.

And he’d hardly be thrilled to discover
All the terrible secrets I keep,
Like my habit of picking my toenails
Or the way that I snore in my sleep.

But hold on! Just a sec! Wait a minute!
Even heroes can have feet of clay,
And if flesh could be moulded from paper
All my daydreams might flutter away.

I could find him a self-centred moron
And his cool conversation a bore.
He might suffer severe halitosis;
Leave his smalls in a heap on the floor.

So I think I’ll stop dangerous dreaming,
‘Cos I really prefer him like this –
A tongue that is nothing but pixels
Can’t get stuck on my brace when we kiss.


(C) Helen Lewis, 1983(-ish)

Catching some Zs


[This one is best appreciated if you read it aloud!]


Zapata, wizard, zany, zinger, spritz,

Bedazzle, frazzle, zebra, zygote, fuzz,

Zucchini, gizzard, bozo, schnozzle, Ritz,

Horizon, dazzle, vuvuzela, buzz.


Cadenza, swizzle, zesty, guzzle, booze,

Piazza, pizza, cozy, zeitgeist, wheeze,

Organza, drizzle, zombified, kazoos,

Gazebo, breezy, zephyr, lazy, sleaze.           


Embezzle, rhizome, stanza, panzer, blaze, 

Byzantine, bite-size, mozzarella, fez,

Zootoxic, lizard, ouzo, orzo, daze,

Amazing, ozone, paparazzi, Pez.


Bamboozle, nuzzle, muzzle, guzzle, whizz,

Emblazon, crazy, buzzard, zip, zap, fizz!


© Helen Lewis, 2011


P.S. If you enjoyed this, you might also like The Joy of X

Lover boy

After Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun


My lover boy is nothing like a ten,

More like a two (I’m being generous).

He’s got a face like Jerry crossed with Ben,

His feet are rank, his farts are perilous.

His eyes are bad; he cannot see a thing,

And often goes out with his fly undone.

His knobbly knees look just like knots in string,

And where there once was hair, there now is none.

The only six-packs near his abdomen

Are those he drinks to make his belly fat.

I’m also pretty sure most normal men

Don’t bite and chew their toenails quite like that.

And yet I find him sexier by far

Than any footballer or movie star.


(c) Helen Lewis 2008

To a Dinner Lady

(After Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII)


Shall I compare thee to a proper cook?

Thou art more surly and more obdurate.

By such rough winds our children’s guts are shook

That summer hols have all too short a date.

Sometime too hot thy curried mince doth taste,

And globs of gristle often blight thy stew.

Thy grease-slick gravy looks like toxic waste,

And rumour says thy custard’s made from glue.

But thy eternal lunchtime shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that scowl thou wearest,

Nor shall inspectors claim thou mak’st the grade,

When none will eat the food that thou preparest.

So long as school’s a place where lunch is bought,

So long liv’st thou, and that gives food for thought.


(c) Helen Lewis 2008

The Ballad of Lachie McLachlan the Third

Come on everybody, and sit round the fire

While I tell you the tale of a brave DIY-er.

Well-read though you are, folks, I’ll bet you’ve not heard

The ballad of Lachie McLachlan the third.


From his nine-to-five job Lachie longed to break free

(He worked as a chartered accountant you see.)

At weekends he stripped, sanded, papered and painted,

At night he escaped to his shed and invented.


A heatseeking pencil, a cloak for a gnat,

A football with engines, a solar-powered hat;

Our Lachie’s inventions were truly unique,

And he kept on producing them week after week.


Now Lachie himself would be first to confess

That sometimes his hobbies would make quite a mess.

The burns on the carpet and holes in the wall

Were none too impressive when friends came to call.


One day, with the house falling down round her ears

His wife Emma cracked (she’d been crumbling for years).

To be married to Lachie was trying enough,

But life in the midlands was proving too tough.


She pined for the bagpipes, the mountains, the heather,

The real butter shortbread and terrible weather.

“Now Lachie,” she said, “Wave your DIY wand,

To remind me of Scotland of which I’m so fond.


Make over the lounge for your daughter and me

And make us believe we’re back home in Dundee.

So spare no expense, love, I don’t want it spartan,

And no holding back – I want everything tartan.”


So Lachie went shopping for tartan wallpaper

And carpet and curtains – oh my, what a caper!

He called at each furnishing store in the mall

But none of them had any tartan at all.


When Lachie told Emma he hadn’t been able

To find any tartan, she banged on the table.

“I won’t accept no for an answer,” she said.

“I want the walls chequered in blue, green and red.


If the lounge isn’t tartan by this time next week

I’m leaving you, Lachie. Shut up, let me speak.

I’ll take a memento or two when I go

Like your platinum card and your vintage Bordeaux.”


While the sudden departure of daughter and wife

Would not leave a huge gaping hole in his life,

The permanent loss of his platinum card

Would curtail his inventing. This hit Lachie hard.


Gone midnight, while Lachie was lying in bed

A dirty great light bulb went off in his head.

He knew what he needed to solve his dilemma.

A big tartan paint bomb would satisfy Emma.


So Lachie got up and slunk off to his shed,

Feeling certain that hours of work lay ahead.

By daybreak he’d finished – the job was complete

And a bleary-eyed Lachie was dead on his feet.


As Emma got up, Lachie crawled into bed.

She asked where he’d been. “Just inventing,” he said.

“I’ve invented a paint bomb.” This got her attention.

She asked him at once to describe his invention.


Said Lachie, “It’s really the simplest thing.

The paint bomb’s attached to the ceiling with string.

You light the fuse quickly, and then leave the room

Before the device has a chance to go ‘boom’.


Once everything’s dry I’m convinced you’ll adore

The bold tartan checks on walls, ceiling and floor.

Updating the lounge will be done in a flash.

With no carpet to buy we can save loads of cash.”


So that afternoon Lachie switched on the heating

And covered the windows with blue plastic sheeting

So that anyone sat on the suedette settee

Would still get a view of the A43.


He filled his invention with red, green and blue

And took down the curtains and photographs too.

He hung up the paint bomb with Blu-tac and string

And then lit a match; ah, but here is the thing:


The fuse Lachie fitted was too short, my friend,

And as soon as he put a lit match to the end

The paint bomb went off with an ear-splitting roar.

Poor Lachie keeled over and fell to the floor.


To spare you, dear reader, additional strife,

I’ll tell you our hero escaped with his life.

While the payment he made for his error was high

He didn’t end up in the shed in the sky.


Instead Lachie found himself lying in bed

Looking up at a white-collared face overhead.

Said the doctor, “You must think me terribly rude.

I’ve not introduced myself – I’m Doctor Pseud.


You’ve been in a coma but now you’re awake

And you’re going to get better for everyone’s sake.

There’s just one small problem. We scrubbed at your skin

But we couldn’t get rid of the paint on your chin


Or your cheeks or your forehead, your neck or your nose.

How on earth you tattooed your own face, heaven knows.

But there’s one thing I do know, because I’m so clever:

It’s not coming off. You’ll be tartan forever.”


Though a lesser man might have been crushed by this fate

Lachie wasn’t too bothered – in fact, he felt great.

He was over the moon to escape with his life

And gladly returned to his job and his wife.


At work Lachie’s boss called him in for a chat:

“You can’t meet our customers looking like that.

I want you to leave by the end of the week.

This firm is no place for a tartan-faced freak.”


When Emma found out he’d been given the sack

She said, “Right, I’m leaving. I’m not coming back.

I can’t stand the taunts on the street any more

And losing your job is the very last straw.”


The bank sent our Lachie a note to explain

The house that he lived in was in his wife’s name.

She stood to make quite a big profit, no doubt,

And he had till the end of the month to get out.


This news left poor Lachie too gobsmacked to speak;

He’d lost job, wife and house in the space of a week.

But despite his misfortune he didn’t start whining;

He knew every cloud has a platinum lining.


These days Lachie’s life’s not the same as before.

He’s no longer bored with his job, that’s for sure.

His paint bomb’s sold millions, won glowing reviews,

And it now comes equipped with a very long fuse.


At weekends our hero dons sporran and sword,

And full highland dress for the Scots Tourist Board,

And whenever they’re touring he earns what he can

As the Bay City Rollers’ publicity man.


At long last we come to our thought for the day,

The message of this, our morality play:

Though the cards that life deals you may look pretty lame

If you play them with skill you can still win the game.


And so, dearest readers, my story is done.

There’s no more to say, no more tales to be spun.

But I bet you’ll remember it now that you’ve heard

The ballad of Lachie McLachlan the third.


© Helen Lewis 2009

Eye ewes two suck at spilling

Eye ewes two suck at spilling,

Each were die rote war sarong.

My tea chair off untold me

My rye ting adder pong

Like deacon posing sigh ledge,

Ore old tramp sunder where.

Eyed smile and shrug my shoaled errs

As if eyed id dent care.


Butt tea chair’s quips tongue de-plea

Inn every sing gull weigh

Bea coz it is my dream too bee

Adjourn a list sum day.


Mime um bore tack um pewter

Witch Phil’s me with deal light,

Cause now this grate spill chucker

Make Saul my spellings write.

My dick shun Aries does tea,

Knot oh penned it sins May.

Dough knead it any longue Ur —

Aisle throw thee thing eh whey!


© Helen Lewis 2009


P.S. If your brain’s been mangled into mush, here’s a translation:


I used to suck at spelling

I used to suck at spelling,

Each word I wrote was wrong.

My teacher often told me

My writing had a pong

Like decomposing silage

Or old tramp’s underwear.

I’d smile and shrug my shoulders

As if I didn’t care.


But teacher’s quips stung deeply

In every single way

Because it is my dream to be

A journalist some day.


My mum bought a computer

Which fills me with delight,

‘Cos now this great spell checker

Makes all my spellings right.

My dictionary’s dusty,

Not opened it since May.

Don’t need it any longer –

I’ll throw the thing away!



Professor Itty’s Last Lecture


Professor Dagmar Itty mopped his brow

And squinted at his notes – a cryptic scrawl.

He cleared his throat and in a nervous voice

Addressed the overflowing lecture hall.


‘This morning’s talk should really be about

Cycloidal drives and epicyclic gears,

But since I’ll be retiring Friday week

I thought I’d stray off topic.’ (Raucous cheers)


‘I’ve been a fellow here since eighty-nine.

The day that I arrived I made a vow

To spend my leisure time indulging in

A project I’ve kept secret – until now.’


The students all leant forward in their seats.

Professor Itty’s hobby was the buzz,

A subject of debate; a hundred bets

Were placed this week alone on what it was.


‘So let me share with you,’ proclaimed the Prof,

‘This formula I’ve found; it’s very neat,

Although you’d be advised to stand well back,

Because it does produce a bit of heat.’


I tried to follow everything he did

But it was so involved I soon lost track.

I looked around at everybody else;

Like me, their eyes were glazed, their jaws were slack.


Then suddenly a blinding flash of light,

A sonic boom, a muffled cry of ‘Duck!’

And when I stood back up the sight I saw

Punched out my breath and left me thunderstruck.


A hundred thousand glowing points of light

Hung silently about us in the hall

Each one a slightly different shape and size –

Some spiral, some elliptical, but all


Rotated slowly as they moved apart.

‘Each one’s a galaxy,’ explained the Prof.

‘I’ve just designed a whole new universe,

And now I need some serious time off.’


© Helen Lewis 2010

%d bloggers like this: