Sunday, 16 October 2011

Five legislations

This is another poem of mine from the mid-90s that was published in Verbatim. The reference is Verbatim 25(3), 2000, p. 14.


Thirty days hath September:
strictly, of course, the phases of the moon
do not reflect how many days, or nights;
strictly, indeed, letting the moon dictate
the months would give us thirteen in the year.
Unworkable! Instead, we have twelve months,
more or less equal, and September happens
to have got thirty days. No problem. Oh,
and there was one year when eleven went
to make us equal with the continent.

I before E except after C:
we all agree this shall be true.
The rebel words that do not spell
that way are weird and few.
Oh, and some French-descended words as well --
leisure, seize, and such affairs --
the problem's theirs.

How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which kings or laws can cause or cure,
wrote Johnson. That, I think, sums up my feeling
of why there'd be no mileage in repealing
the law that says your age is fixed at birth,
the one that bans cold liquids from congealing,
the one that stipulates the height of ceiling
for footpaths. Would the benefits be worth
all the upheavals that would send us reeling?

The pen is mightier than the sword,
which is why pens cost fifteen hundred pounds
from licensed dealers, lessons in their use
do not come cheap, and ownership is taxed
at eighty pounds a year, while swords are freebies
from charities and banks. Oh, and I worry
when kids leave school functionally unfenced.

Poetry is a verdict, not an occupation,
said Leonard Cohen. Tough, like science:
not the law’s unacknowledged legislation
but its appliance.

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