Birkbeck Poets at the Duke of Wellington, February 2015

themcinthehat8 February 2015 saw the fifth outing of The Birkbeck Poets at The Duke of Wellington pub in the Balls Pond Road, and the first outing for another different hat. (Hats are becoming a signature element of the MC’s role, and I apologise for this one – not the most flattering).

To find out more about The Birkbeck Poets, visit their Facebook page – where we’ll shortly be adding  photos of February’s other readers (and, in some cases, extracts from their poems). Remember to ‘Like’ the page to get updates on future performances!

In the meantime, here are two poems that I read that evening. The first – in a failed attempt at seasonality – is a Halloween poem that misunderstood the term ‘trick’ with a knowing wink; the second is lyric for a fictional song written and sung by a fictional character. (Other fictional characters from the same novel in progress presented their lyrics in an earlier post.)

Trick or Treat
Halloween beckons, and the saloon bar is night-black.
Mummer and mummer act dumber and dumber
As candles flutter in pumpkins’ eyes.
Through the darkness, his hips come scissoring,
Shredding the night’s false binary. A trick,
They seem to whisper, is only a treat as yet unwrapped.

Lips whisper too, when he draws closer,
Salty somethings seasoning sweet nothings,
Bouquets are pulled from jacket-sleeves,
Rabbits out of laps.
He presses you to prestidigitation with talk of magic,
Promises to conjure strings of pearls
With a flourish of his wand.

His flatterer’s incantations circle to and fro, hypnotic,
Till he raises his hand to summon fresh elixirs.
One haughty click of his fingers and the spell is broken,
Enchantment burned away like brandy
In the flare of vanity’s match.

Nanny Knows Best
Don’t leer or peer or wolf-whistle, you’ll only be a pest
Even if you’re sunbathing, don’t forget your vest
Always pay attention – rest assured there’ll be a test
You might be down from Oxford, dear, but Nanny knows best

Don’t just keep up appearances, look better than the rest
Unless your crease is starched and pressed, you’re not exactly dressed
And keep your upper lip quite stiff, though you be sorely pressed,
Dignity at all times, darling, Nanny knows best

Work harder than the contract says, that’s how you impress
When hearth and home are spick and span, then you may rest
Strivings for achievers, boy, skiving is for pests
Don’t masturbate, matriculate: Nanny knows best.

Pray on Sundays if you must but know who’s truly blessed
Gold is what to really covet, as medals will attest
Silver’s fine for tableware, but vulgar on a chest
Winning is what really counts – Nanny knows best


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