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Competition 34 Report

You were asked to provide up to 16 lines beginning ‘The trouble is with . . .’ in the footsteps of R. P.. Lister’s ‘The trouble is with taxidermy . . .’

An interesting entry, although no competitor quite achieved the Listerian note of ingenuity allied with a faint numinous Something Else. Topics included the political or semi-political, such as Mae Scanlan’s inevitable orange-coiffed candidate (Trump to an iceberg is akin/And we’ve only seen the tip) and Tracy Davidson’s complaint (The trouble is with manifestos/You can’t believe a word they say) referenda, tax-evasion and Health and Safety as well as others like Bruce McGuffin’s Aunt Shirley, drunk since last October, zoology, carnal knowledge, and R. P.Lister himself.

With thanks to all those who took part and commiserations to those whose pieces didn’t quite make it, below in no particular order are the results of the judge’s ponderings.

The trouble is with matrimony
as with any tie that binds
soon one learns which pacts are phony;
which are marriages of minds.

The matrimonial condition
seldom soars to amorous heights:
dreamers wake as Time’s attrition
tames those formerly wild nights.

For some the path is not so stony:
happy marriage . . . lots of cash . . .
The others – well, there’s alimony
and another wedding bash!

Liza McAlister Williams

The trouble is with shopping trolleys
they showcase all the shopper’s follies.
The supermarket tray-on-wheels,
transporting dodgy taste, reveals
to every passing foodie that
this shopper’s taste is naff/junk/fat,
dependent on (addicted to?)
things that are TRULY bad for you.

Nowhere to hide that litre (gin)
or bargain bags of crisps. (A sin
to pass that Special Offer’s lure.
It won’t be there next week, I’m sure.)
Those doughnuts? Just a weekday treat.
The éclairs? Well, one has to eat.
A trolley, hooded, would disguise
this shopper’s weaknesses, and lies.

D.A. Prince


The trouble is with learning Spanish
Two verbs ‘to be’, viz, ser, estar,
Whose different uses always vanish
When, classes done, you must hablar.

At first, it all seems rather thrilling−
¡Joder! It proves too good to last.
¡Despacio! The pace is killing,
Castilian goes far too fast.

Subjunctives, plus some prepositions,
Among them para versus por,
Have now confirmed my worst suspicions−
I’m stuck with English evermore.

C.R. Edenhill


The trouble is with contemplation
Of everything beneath the sun
That we have such a short duration
Till death negates what we've begun.

The clock of life starts tightly wound-up;
We down our daily drafts and vittles.
But when we've reached the final roundup,
Not much of it was beer and skittles.

The ceaseless waxing and the waning
Of just about a thousand moons
Has set the poets to complaining
Of roads not taken, coffee spoons.

Some winter night, when we're recalling
Old vernal fragrant fields of clover,
The show shuts down, the curtain's falling;
The marquee lights proclaim "GAME OVER."

Douglas G. Brown

The trouble is with getting older
bits start to wrinkle, droop and fade.
You love the file but hate the folder,
a covering the years degrade.

You like the music played in lifts;
instruction booklet print’s too small;
the brain cells you have left are gifts;
without specs you can’t read at all

But underneath that flabby hide
a teenage rebel lurks who longs
for life as pure white knuckle ride
and vodka shots, and racy thongs.

Susanna Clayson

The Competition Judge’s Last Resort

The trouble is with choosing winners
So many aren’t clear also-rans
Whose wits have wandered, or beginners
At verse that’s light and rhymes and scans.

Much easier, the rubric-benders
Who earn a digital Delete
Along with after-deadline senders
Or those debarred by faltering feet.

The rest? Not one that looks outstanding?
Dilemma! Far too close to call!
So . . . print out, toss them from the landing,
See which first make it to the hall?

L.A. Mereoie