The Percy French Prize for comic verse 2015
1st Dee Gaynor, Kent, England Pant-up Frustration
2nd Siobhan Flynn, Dublin, Ireland The Ballad of Daisy McHugh
3rd Peter Goulding, Dublin, Ireland The oul wans up above in Ballinrobe
1st prize Dee Gaynor, England Pant-up Frustration
When I was teenager I followed each new trend
My ever-changing outfits drove my mother round the bend
I wore some odd creations that were really quite bizarre
But perhaps this latest fashion fad has gone a bit too far
I think myself as liberal but I’ve been left amused
And, yes, if I am honest, a little bit confused
As to why so many of today’s young men and teens
Have their underwear and backside hanging from their jeans
The sagging look requires the belt to fasten round the thighs
Creating sights that frankly, are not easy on the eyes
I’m sure the guys who sport this style must think they look fantastic
I’d like to take their trousers home and sew in some elastic
I marvel at these fellows as they move around the town
With silly walks they have to do to stop things falling down
Yes, I may be old fashioned but it surely can’t be hip
To lurch as if a crucial part got caught up in your zip
They shuffle as if suffering from awful constipation,
Requiring urgent surgery and hospitalization
And anyone who wants to have their undergarments seen
Ought to make the effort to ensure that they are clean
Perhaps I’m too long in the tooth and simply getting old
But I would think the lack of clothing makes the botty cold
It must get rather draughty when a gust of chill wind hits
Blowing up an icy blast around the dangly bits
To those who will insist to wear their jeans below the crutch,
Please bear in mind for some of us it’s just a bit too much
So take pity on this woman and hear her as she rants
“I don’t want to see your bum – so please pull up your pants!”
2nd Prize The Ballad of Daisy McHugh Siobhan Flynn, Dublin, Ireland
A bunch of the girls were whooping it up in the Karaoke saloon;
Carmel was leading the rest of the gang in singing a Neil Diamond tune;
Back of the bar, watching the door, sat Dangerous Daisy McHugh,
And watching her watch was the waiting line of ladies outside the loo
When one of the girls, who was fifty or more, and drinking a gin and lime
Spotted a man, who when asked said “divorced”, not young but still in his prime
He looked like a man with a need to be loved and a house to call his own
He had some of his hair and most of his teeth, and his children were surely grown.
They couldn’t quite place the stranger’s face, though they searched themselves for a clue;
But they drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Daisy McHugh.
There’s men that somehow grip your sight, and you just can’t look away;
Your brain instructs your eyes to watch and you wish they’d disobey
His face was red as a well slapped arse and shone like a sticky bun
But he went to the bar and ordered a drink and knocked it back in one.
All of a sudden I knew who he was, and I knew what he wanted to do,
And I turned my head — and there watching him were the ladies outside the loo.
His eyes went wandering round the room, and he seemed to be kind of afraid
Till at last the karaoke machine fell in the way of his gaze.
The ladies were ordering up more drinks as he’d caused a thirst to strike,
So the stranger stumbled across the room, and dared to pick up the mic
In a Dublin shirt that was glazed with dirt he stood, and I saw him swing;
He turned on the machine with a flick of his wrist — Oh God! but he couldn’t sing.
Were you ever out on a Valentine’s night, when the dinner was awful dear,
And the expectation hemmed you in with a silence you ‘most could hear;
When the waiter, with thoughts of his own romance, encouraged you not to linger,
And you were afraid that the man you were with thought you wanted a ring on your finger;
While everyone else was laughing and kissing with no thought of an obligation
That’s what the music reminded me of. . . a romantic aberration.
The ladies had their drinks in their hands they were ready again to sing
Lil was starting to lose her rag ‘cos she wanted to sing “Wild Thing”
He had stolen the mic right in front of their eyes and now they wanted it back
Sure men are all very well and good but you can’t beat the girls for the craic
But someone else had joined the man while they were deciding what to do
“I guess I’ll make it a duet”, said Dangerous Daisy McHugh.
I almost fainted dead away … the girls leapt on stage like a flood;
And they started to shout “It’s Lil’s turn next” and their eyes were red with blood.
The stranger and Daisy stood their ground and started on “Summer Nights”,
They sang about love that had drifted away and they sang about love at first sight
The girls still had their eyes on the prize they weren’t giving up on the mic
They came from the left and they came from the right and now they were ready to strike
But the stranger said ‘We’re not stopping now, for too long it’s been my dream,
To stand on this stage with the love of my life and sing “Islands in the Stream”;
Well that was too much, the girls called up the ladies outside the loo
They screamed “We thought you were one of the girls, you wagon Daisy McHugh.”
But Daisy smiled, and said “Hold your fire, I’m not that much of a louse
I promised my ex I’d sing with him if he let me have the house.
It’s taken a while for my womanly wiles but today the divorce came through”
So they all stood down, and some went back to waiting outside the loo.”
These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
I was one of the legal team, and I’m not denying it’s so
It was the strangest deal I’ve ever done, but strictly between us two —
She earned every brick of that house did Dangerous Daisy McHugh.
3rd Prize The oul wans up above in Ballinrobe Peter Goulding, Dublin, Ireland
This new Broadband that they’ve brought us
makes a hare look like a tortoise –
one click can now transport us round the globe.
I daresay it might well catch on,
but in truth it’s not a patch on
all the oul’ wans up above in Ballinrobe.
Sky News, with sweet Kay Burley,
boasts it gets the news out early
but it’s positively surly when compared
to east Mayo’s chattering legion
that spreads news across the region
before a public statement’s been prepared.
If the daughter of Joe Cronin
puts on weight, they start their phonin’
and the news will soon be known in Glenamaddy
that she’s looking somewhat chubby
and, poor girl, she has no hubby
and Scratcher Byrne is probably the daddy.
And if the swanky Widow Twanky
thinks her secret hanky panky
with the rich, retired Yankee is unknown,
she’ll soon find that her and Boris
have been feted in Claremorris,
where no secret’s safe for long before it’s blown.
And if perchance you win the Lotto
and take up ‘Silence’ as your motto,
don’t whisper sotto voce in your slumbers,
for the whole damned town will know of it
and make a holy show of it
before you’ve had a chance to check the numbers.
Just last week, the phones were buzzin’
‘bout Catriona Earley’s cousin
selling poitín by the dozen in Kilmaine.
And by the time he got to Cong,
the queue was half a mile long
and he’ll never have to sweep the streets again.
Firms like Intel place reliance
on the benefits of science
and, like all commercial giants, they’re outspoken.
But no microchip is speedier
than the Eastern Mayo media,
which never tells you ‘Oops! The link is broken!’
Yes, the tabloids hack maliciously
and eavesdrop surreptitiously,
but no use how perniciously they probe,
they can’t really get a handle
on the speed they spread a scandal
from Kiltimagh to Knock to Ballinrobe.
Customer Service Elizabeth Bodien Pennsylvania, USA.
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The Cabbage King Anna Greenwood, Roscommon, Ireland
The cabbage competition
Was at the county fair.
It was always well attended and
The green elite was there.
John, he was the cabbage king,
His losses were uncommon.
He’d won the contest every year
And was known throughout Roscommon.
His friends had always told him
That he should take a wife,
But the cabbage patch would call him,
The green stuff was his life.
This year John was worried
Because he had a worthy rival.
Every night he tossed and turned,
He was fighting for survival.
Nelly was his neighbor,
A gardener all her life;
This year she’d grown some cabbages
When John refused her as his wife.
The night before the contest,
John crept out with a torch
And shone it on the veggies that
Grew by Nelly’s porch.
He gasped to see the great, green orbs
Glowing in the light,
So much larger than his own,
They gave him quite a fright!
He very quickly hatched a plan,
Full certain it would work.
He spent all that night toiling,
He was never one to shirk.
Daylight came and, at the fair,
The tension quickly mounted;
Row on row of cabbages,
Too many to be counted.
The judges looked at every one,
It took them quite a while,
Then when they reached John’s giant,
They halted with a smile.
It was obviously the biggest
Of everybody’s there.
John’s cabbage was the winner!
The judges did declare.
They took a knife and cut it
To view its compact heart,
But the cabbage then exploded,
Giving everyone a start!
John’s ‘cabbage’ was a beach ball
With carefully glued-on leaves,
Now in bits across the grass,
A crude effort to deceive!
“Your cabbage days are over!”
The judges yelled in fury.
“Stick to other veggies
Or be forced to face a jury!”
But John was not defeated,
He had another plan,
He very soon wed Nelly
And their married bliss began.
Every year you’ll see them win
At several county fairs,
Happy and contented,
In spite of hostile stares.
Yes, despite the bursting cabbage
And in spite of all the doubts,
Nelly always wins with cabbages,
And John wins with his sprouts!
i understand Michael Swan
(Written after reading right through two prestigious poetry magazines)
I wrote a poem
and I showed it to some people
and they said
‘We understand it.’
And I said
And they said
you don’t understand.
We understand it.’
So I said
and I put in a lot more words
of various kinds,
and a bit about Pheidippides
and an octopus.
But they said
‘We can still understand it.’
So I said
and I added eight lines
about how my father
wanted to be a jazz saxophonist
in the Matto Grosso
but the birds wouldn’t let him,
and I put in a space
after every third line
like there was no tomorrow
and made line breaks
like you’ve never seen,
with something my Aunty Eileen said
about a ferret.
And they said
‘This is really promising,
we can’t understand very much,
but the bit about the Hubble telescope
is a shade over-explicit,
you might want to work on that.’
So I added
four French adjectives beginning with a
and a reference to Timon of Athens,
and they said
we don’t understand anything at all.
May we publish it?’
And I said