Category: wordplay


It’s a pity Otis Cutbush
wasn’t here to see the frog
that came leaping through the window
and landed on the dog.

Such a sight is rare indeed,
a Frog and Dog Alignment.
Otis could have used it
for his poetry assignment.

Poetry is full of frogs
and dogs are ten-a-penny,
but poems that combine the two?
I can’t think of any.

— ’Scuse me, Mr Poet,
but I simply can’t agree:
there’s a new one out by Twemlow,
called ‘Originality’.




Let’s see if Dieter Drummond
has the gall to stake a claim,
after spending all the petty cash
on Rita What’s-her-name.

Dieter treated Rita
to a holiday in Nice,
then he bought her dainty frillies
from La Maison Caprice.

And all the while the petty cash
lay empty as the void:
not a cent to pay the rent
or feed a hungry boid.

Oh Dieter, must you treat her
like the Queen of Andrapash,
when the boids and Dale the landlord
are relying on the cash?


In the detail

I was taking tea with Twemlow
when the ceiling collapsed.
We were both uninjured,
cos the ceiling was in France.

Why would I be taking tea
with Twemlow in France?
Don’t jump to rash conclusions
till you know the circumstance.

Be mindful, gentle reader,
not to misconstrue my words
by juxtaposing details
that belong to different worlds.

Ask Dad

Today is the birthday of Solomon (Sol) Meldew, born in 1915 to poor immigrant parents in Twemlow, West Virginia. He studied engineering at college, but dropped out after only one year, and headed to New York. Aged just 20, he had little experience of city life and soon fell in with the wrong crowd: poets, novelists, and artists — what his father used to call ‘the scum of the scum of the earth’.

But scum seemed to suit Sol, and his first collection of poems, Wherefore the Vision? was published in 1937. While giving a poetry reading at Columbia University, he was attacked by a hothead in the audience (a fan of Eliot, apparently), and was seriously injured. While recovering in hospital, Sol fell in love with his nurse, Mary Ellen Rosetti. They married in 1946.  Sol wrote: ‘Mary Ellen meant the world to me, and I think she gave my poetry a whole new depth. A woman can do that, you know.’

His next collection, Storm over Twemlow (1948) was gritty, hard-hitting, and seethed with anger about his childhood, his family, and small-town America. It won the National Book Award, and Sol’s reputation as a poet was secured.

From then on, he wrote nothing. He became what his father called ‘a lousy stinkin’ bum who couldn’t write to save a dog from drownin’.’ Which is exactly what happened: in 1956, Mary Ellen’s beloved dog, Spangles, was drowned in the East River, while Sol stood by, his inkhorn dry, writing nothing. The couple were divorced shortly after, and Sol moved to a trailer park in Pilbeam, Missouri. His National Book Award was officially withdrawn, and was given instead to his father, for his ‘prophetic vision that looks unflinchingly into the hearts of men’.

Today, Sol is best remembered for being forgotten. He died alone in 1960 and was buried at Mount Oblivion. It was said that Mary Ellen visited his grave once a year, to spit. Sol’s father went on to host his own radio talkshow, Meldew Moments (1961-66), where he made famous the catchphrase Aaaask Daddy!


A writer’s complaint

Leroy Spurtz has the kind of name
you’d find in the Olympics,
and yet the crazy bastard
went and studied astrophysics.

I had him down for greatness
on the parallel bars,
instead of which he wastes his time
gazing at the stars.

What’s the point?, I ask myself,
of this here writing game,
when the characters I dream up
just treat me with disdain?

Full bore

I don’t think I’ll ever understand Quantum Physics, at least not fully. Which is a pity, because Niels Bohr and I have a lot in common.

He was born on a Tuesday, and so was I.

His mother had varicose veins, and so had mine.

He won a prize for an essay when he was at school, and I won ten pounds on a scratch card about six months ago. I bought it in Landy’s in the High Street. Apparently, he’s had quite a few winners in recent years. I said to him ‘They should call you Lucky Landy’. He laughed.

He (Bohr) was a passionate footballer in his youth, and so was a mate of mine at work. In fact, he (my mate, not Bohr) had a trial for Sheffield United when he was a 15, though he didn’t make the grade. Which is a pity, because he was a nifty little player. Very fast, and a great reader of the game, even at that age.

He (back to Bohr) always drank tea without sugar, and I’m exactly the same. You might as well poison me as put sugar in my tea. Whereas I don’t mind sugar in coffee at all. Isn’t that strange?

So yes, there is a connection, but it’s difficult to quantify.


Anagram jam

Delmar likes the medlar pears,
for anagrammic reasons.
He picks them up at Mardel’s,
when the medlars are in season.

Such a pity Mardel’s pears
cause Delmar’s dermal lesions.
I told him to eschew the pears
but Delmar won’t see reason:

‘I’m not larmed by lesions
or by other dermal flaws.
I just lard ‘em up with medlars
and apply ‘em with a gauze.’

‘So don’t despise the medlar,
which makes such soothing jams,
and also shows such acumen
in making anagrams.’