After Laughter by Mark Mayes

When oft in pensive mood I lie,
and search in vain for some light-hearted verse,
yet couplets dolour-heavy meet my eye,
and I usually end up feeling worse.

Rumi makes me gloomy and Hughes does not amuse.
After harkening to Larkin, I’ve got the metrical blues.

I didn’t grin on reading Prynne,
and Donne did not supply the mirth;
I took some Dickinson on the chin
and wonder what these Words are Worth
to one who’s feeling glum
to wit: enjambement leaves me numb
as some Sunday scribbler’s bum.

The poets of the First World War
hardly ever make me guffaw.
Even Duffy can be stuffy
and make me cry: “Never more! Never more!”

With A. Motion on the shitter,
I’m left feeling somewhat bitter;
and when it comes to R.S. Thomas,
why, butty bach, there’s ne’er a titter.

Pope was a dope; man, he could really mope;
even Shakey was flaky when it came to a joke.

Octavio Paz (born in Lima?*),
not exactly what you’d call a screamer.

That Billy Blake was off his cake,
he never did make the old sides ache.
E. J. Thribb – now there’s a damp squib.
Did Cowper ever raise a chortle with his nib?

To the Georgians, the Moderns, the Martians I’d give the boot,
for a haiku I could smile to or an ode that makes me hoot.

Then someone told me about this site
where every line is a delight.
You’re sure to find there something funny
(or if not Mr Pinnock will return your money).

The dearth of giggles had me going loco,
but now I swear by Spilling Cocoa!

*Señor Paz was actually born in Mexico City, in 1914 – but that didn’t rhyme with ‘screamer’ – MM

The author of this piece has asked me to point out that he doesn’t actually mean any of it and he loves all of the above-mentioned poets really – Ed (who is also wondering if he really meant the nice things about this place)


Mark Mayes has published poems in various magazines, including: The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat & Tears, Staple, The Reader, The Shop, and Fire, and has had work broadcast on BBC Radio. He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.


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