Jerome Betts


Ophthalmic Note

One thing that expunges my cheerful grin—
The memory of being taken by a long-
worshipped-from-afar golden girl for
a school friend’s twin.
Tremors still travel down the years to
me from that seismic shock
When the somewhat shallow foundations
of adolescent self-esteem began to rock.
While conceding we both had spectacles and
a sort of scholarly physique,
Why didn’t she notice one of us also had the
green and white complexion of a corpse
or prize leek?
I don’t want to sound belatedly supercilious,
But one of us looked distinctly necrobilious,
Not to say saurian,
Severe, yet dissolute, Gladstone’s death-mask
crossed with Oscar Wilde’s Dorian . . .
Oh yes, whatever the heat of the fire those
luxurious blonde locks had fueled,
The flame of my devotion turned blue, quavered,
smoked and died as the atmosphere cooled
And my mind became almost irretrievably set
On flowing or flaming red or the assorted shades
of brunette,
Having decided to add to the list of items I could
dispense with in Life’s cornucopia,
Golden girls with myopia.

His Last Case

Pat Pluck was, by the trade’s account,
The best of those who stuff and mount.

Although not “woke” or strictly green
He liked to keep his business clean.
Big game he did not care to handle
For fear of “threatened species” scandal.

From meerkats down to moles and mice
His work received a stellar price
And so his rather strained expression
Was not the fault of his profession.
It had a more domestic cause—
Cherchez la femme or Her Indoors—
From living as a married martyr
To one whose tongue grew daily tarter.

Then Time, at last, gave Pat his cue—
She’s under glass now, labelled Shrew.

Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, where he edits the verse quarterly Lighten Up Online. His work has appeared in a variety of British magazines and in several anthologies, as well as UK, European, and North American web publications, among them Amsterdam Quarterly, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Better Than Starbucks, Light, The Asses of Parnassus, The Hypertexts, The New Verse News, and Snakeskin.