Competition 17


Unsurprisingly there was a large entry for this one. Poets' back catalogues are overloaded with pieces on this subject and many long-festering hurts were unearthed from dusty files. The best, though, tended to have a clearer sense of having been written for this particular competition.

So, in no particular order (to avoid already damaged souls from feeling any possible sense of anything less than all-conquering success ) here comes your litany of misery, resentment and stiff upper lippery concerning rejected love, manuscripts, carrots and, possibly, body parts, et al.

NB. There are no plans - as yet - to ask Melissa Balmain to guest-edit an edition of Lighten Up Online. However ...


Mummy thinks that I’m a sucker –
playing airplanes with a fork;
I will tell her where to put her
carrots, when I learn to talk.

I don’t want no mashed potato;
chopped-up chicken is a bore;
one more spoon of purée’d spinach
and I’ll vomit on the floor.

Now she’s made a foodie garden:
roast beef earth (she’s smiling cockily),
sweetcorn flowers and little trees
(think I can’t spot that means broccoli?).

Though I’m small I have discovered
life’s a thing of give and take:
if I won’t take ruddy cabbage,
give up now and give me CAKE...

Lynn Roberts


Dear Writer [who’s not dear and cannot write],
Thank you for showing us your [so-called] work.
[It’s obvious that you’re a clueless jerk
and typed the thing while higher than a kite.
Although we read [three words of] it with care,
we’ll have to pass [a kidney stone or two--
or so it seemed when we were reading you.
We also felt like tearing out our hair].
Unfortunately [fortunately] we
get many [better] manuscripts each week
[spam, takeout menus, notes from creditors],
so [if we want to keep our sanity]
we can’t give [drunks like you] a full critique.
Good luck [at Betty Ford],
The Editors

Melissa Balmain



I thought it worthwhile
to stew in love's juices.
I knew men were vile
but found good excuses.

How logic seduces!
I gave it a trial.
I thought it worthwhile
to stew in love's juices.

Now gone is my smile
and cookéd my goose is.
Ahoy, desert isle!
(I thought it worthwhile.)

Joyce La Mers



The question seemed ready for popping
As she rode at his side like a bird
And he talked on and on without stopping
Be-bowlered and booted and spurred.

And did he achieve his objective?
Did he find that his love was returned?
No, he fled before fearsome invective,
De-bowlered and booted and spurned!

Jerome Betts



I tried to pledge my troth and was rebuffed.
I offered you my heart; you said "Get stuffed."
You've made your feelings clear, but here's the catch:
It's been determined I'm your perfect match,
A good provider for your greatest need --
So masked invaders drugged us, made us bleed,
Commingled us; you might not wish it so,
But now I'm with you everywhere you go.
You'll always have some piece of me within you,
As vitally as heart or mind or sinew --
I'm not some opportunist on the make,
But will you be resentful when you wake?
On learning that I've entered you by stealth,
Would you, to spite me, sacrifice your health?
Dear Madeleine, although you've said we're through,
I pray you don't reject my kidney too.

Brendan Beary


Eddie and Freddie tried out for the team;
Eddie was chosen. For Fred, goodbye dream.
But Eddie succumbed to a fatal concussion,
While Ed had a noble career teaching Russian.

Morris and Boris both loved the same girl.
Morris lost out -- she gave Boris the whirl.
Within several years came a sleazy divorce,
While Morris is happily married, of course.

Artie and Marty applied for a post;
Artie was hired right away, as he'd boast.
But now he's in jail for embezzling some funds,
While Marty is proud of the business he runs.

Being rejected's a hard pill to swallow.
Most of the time, though, bright moments will follow.
So, stiff upper lip, and get rid of that frown;
Even the telly, at times, gets turned down.

Mae Scanlan



No, no. It's quite all right. No, please
don't worry; this is just a cough.
Relax, it's fine. 'Course I'm at ease
with this. Listen, I'll laugh it off.

It doesn't matter. Really.
I'm sure it's for the best. You know
your mind, and put it clearly.
So not another word. Don't go

off feeling terrible. I'm not
upset, not in the least. All's well.
I'm fine and dandy. Super. What
I wanted. Nothing more to tell.

I'll sip away now, cheerfully.
I'm singing! you won't hear me growl!

(But once outside, then, tearfully,
I'll howl and howl and howl and howl and howl.)

D. A. Prince