Posted by: John Looker | 22 September, 2010


Here are some light verses – something silly for anyone starting a new term, a new job or relationship, about to move home, join the army, become ordained, give up chocolate, whatever …


(The drawing is by Laura Farmer, © Laura Farmer 2010)


A minor celebrity pleading for a new break on air.
An artist’s model, clutching her towel, postponing the moment to bare.
The bungie-jumper checking again every buckle, every strap, and each calculation with (let me understate) care.
Boys by the roadside regretting their dare.
And the weight-watcher facing superior force in a fresh-cream chocolate éclair.

What have these all in common? Only this:
the no-man’s-land between ‘was’ and ‘will be’.

The mother appealing to Solomon himself, praying his decision would be fair.
The baby floating in the rushes under the sun’s increasing glare.
Delilah stroking Sampson’s hair.
And Noah, resolved no oversight should ever impair
his incongruous craft. David feigning indifference to Goliath’s jeer.

Each experienced that pause, before Time
picked them up bodily and moved them on.
And now you …

… … … nostrils flared, sifting the myriad smells, the wolf: focused, eager to emerge from its lair.
The foal about to be born by a mare.
Fledglings at the nest’s edge thrashing their unproven wings in air.
The chrysalis …

… … … you too are poised, expectant,
but for the moment checked …

… … … closing the cockpit decisively, the more determined being scared.
The astronaut alone in the air-lock preparing for the walk Out There.
Submariners …

But suddenly,
before I’ve finished, before you’re ready, these rare and beautiful verses
are redundant, losing their point. They wither,
extinguished, their time expired.

“Did you like them for while, though?”  ” I guess so, yeah …
but look, admit it now, you know they’re well bizarre.”

© John Stevens 2010


  1. “The chrysalis …

    … … … you too are poised, expectant,
    but for the moment checked …”



  2. What is amazing about this, John, is the thought that must have gone into it. There’s some silliness in here, but beyond the silliness and the flashes of profundity and the cleverness is a thought: Life is a riddle inside the chrysalis, our poems, ourselves “wither, extinguished, their time expired.” And it is all so, well, bizarre.


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