Jerome Betts


Ode Sans OED

“You’re the sort … wrings the juice out of
the lexicon … the old Oxford Dic. must be
getting quite dog-eared … “
— Correspondent

Prodded by Envy’s pen, I steel my spine;
A civilized riposte? Not strong enough.
Lock on, Muse, launch against this Philistine
Five ego-piercing stanzas, off the cuff.

Myopic, twitchy, pallid, hyper-tense,
I see a face—what makes me think of ferrets?—
Whose owner now, in desperate self-defense,
Besmirches others with his own demerits.

Though daily forced to tap a dog-eared ghost
Transfusing, furtively, his dried up veins,
That logodisiac provokes, at most,
Drips of subacid prose from dullards’ brains.

He, er, He, er, He, er, He, er, He, er…

He errs! My way is not at all like his,
Vast Oxford volumes used to veil a swindle.
I scorn the help of well-thumbed dictionaries
To spark a line and get a verse to kindle.

No, as with compost, in whose core is bred
Surprising heat, fierce, subterraneous,
Stray words collect and slowly fill my head
And their combustion is spontaneous.

Or, lest that simile degrade my wit,
Beneath the surface of the mind they cluster
Where cells encapsulate such verbal grit
Like oysters coating pearls with priceless luster.

Deflated, Muse, the criticaster falls
Amid the innuendo that he flung
While I enjoy repeated curtain calls,
My lexicon, and withers, quite unwrung.

Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England. His verse, light or otherwise, has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and USA web venues such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Light, Lighten Up Online, The New Verse News, Per Contra, Snakeskin, and Tilt-A-Whirl. He now edits Lighten Up Online in succession to Martin Parker, its founder.