Stand and Deliver

I tried free verse,

but it rhymed anyway.

So I had another go…

Posting both, if I may.

At the risk of boring readers, the compositions below are, essentially, the same content in different forms.

I asked our writing group which they preferred before posting both versions for the 12 poems in 12 months challenge at

We in the writing group are mostly retired and somewhat old-school. Members of the online challenge group are. . . well. . . poets. Unsurprisingly, the majority view in each case was different.

Which do you prefer?

mouse with long tail

No Turn Unstoned

Why am I here? Looking out on this crowd,
like the clubs I began in and tried to disown. 
Heads turning, distracted. Occasional catcalls.
The un-social clubs where no turn’s left un-stoned.

No smoke, but that beery smell mingled with chips.
Back in the old days there would have been smoke
that rose to the ceiling and drifted back down, 
and made your eyes water. Or was that my jokes?

Your eyes first met mine through the smoke and the heckling. 
Your laugh – in the right places – broke through somehow,
and someone would laugh too, cos laughing’s infectious.
My backbone. My funny bone. Where are you now?

Now swearing’s the fashion for comedy gigs:
like children repeating words parents dislike.
An impoverished lexicon. Where has the laughter gone? 
Gone with the cameras and radio mikes.

I was never a Chaplin or Walters or Wood.
Maybe wooden… (there must be a joke somewhere there.
Or perhaps a right Charlie?) When did your encouraging smiles
become empty? Unreadable? Rare.

Why go on? A sad clown without red shiny nose
or long kangaroo shoes with the soles flapping free.
(Wallaby? wannabee? Must be a joke in there
somewhere. Oh yes, of course. That’ll be me.)

Still Standing

What am I doing here?
Back where I started.
Looking out on a sea of heads
rumbling like breaking waves,
howling like wind.
These un-social social clubs,
birthplace of stand-up, where
no turn goes un-stoned.

Still smelling beery with traces of chips.
No smoke.
Back in the day there would always be smoke.
Clouds curling upwards and gathering,
to fill every corner and make your eyes water.
Or was that my jokes?

You smiled through the smoke.
With you as my backbone I’d stand up to hecklers.
You laughed and applauded in all the right places.
Laughter’s infectious and audiences caught it.
You were my funny bone.

Together we made it work. 
Together through talent shows, TV nights, interviews.
When did your smile become empty, unreadable?
Where are you now?

Where are the cameras? The journalists? Microphones?
Where did the laughter go?
When did swearing, scatology, dirt become funny?
Like tots who shout rude words and laugh at themselves.

I was never a Chaplin or Walters or Wood.
Maybe wooden… 
(there must be a joke in there somewhere)
…or a proper Charlie.

Why go on?
A clown without red nose or kangaroo shoes.
(Wallaby? wannabee? Is there is there a joke in there
Of course, there is. That’ll be me.
Pied Piper

Did you make it this far?

Shall I persevere with the blank verse? (even though I’ve no idea what I’m doing… but nothing new there)

Or should I go back to rhyming treasure hunt clues and leave blank verse to those with poetry in their soul?

16 thoughts on “Stand and Deliver

  1. I think I preferred the second version. I like poetry that rhymes too but haven’t a problem with free verse. I think that is because an English teacher introduced us to e e cummings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ’12 poems in 12 months’ website members on the whole preferred the blank one. But I have noticed that when the challenge is for a rhyming form, such as the sonnet, many of them struggle with the rhyme – and the rhythm. Some of mine are beginning to feel like jingles now though… maybe I shouldn’t use such jingly rhythms so often

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Retirement is an aspiration – like authorship!
      Maybe I should amend my post to ‘no longer in full time employment’… although maybe your boss didn’t know that either, looking at your working hours since covid.


    1. I think I prefer rhyming. It feels more of an achievement – although I’m never confident about my attempts at free verse. Thanks for wading through both and registering your vote 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Cathy, I like both poems. But I’m not a good critic. Which one do you like best? I think they are funny and I could picture them so easily having grown up in that era. Always enjoyable. I’m linking it to Story Chat tomorrow. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m beginning to feel that my rhymes are sounding like jingles… maybe this poerty challenge is getting to me. There’s another post due tomorrow – I’d better go check on my draft.

      Liked by 1 person

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