Jerome Betts


Navigational Terror

(For C.G.A.)

Although the rumor runs that chaps
In cars are masterly with maps,
Interpreting their arcane signs
Eludes the author of these lines.

So now a voice solves doubts for me
En route to A or B or C
With Go straight on! Go left! Go right!
In rain or sunshine, day or night.

That voice! It soothes, yet also thrills!
(Home Counties native, Surrey Hills)
Not lah-di-dah, but crisp and clear
Inspiring trust in all who hear.

When I comply with what I’m told
My trip assumes a tinge of gold
And as the meter logs the miles
My face is often wreathed in smiles.

But, if by chance I disobey,
Embarking on my own sweet way . . .
Good Lord! What torrents of abuse!
She’s got red hair, that’s her excuse.

Requiem In A Cottage Bathroom

You lie back, scrubbed and steaming,
To hum some ancient tunes
Or contemplate, half-dreaming,
Your fingertips, blanched prunes,
Till as you let the fug out—
The room now moistly warm—
You notice, with the plug out,
A swaying whirlpool form.

The water slurps and chuckles,
Then screams, prolonged and shrill.
You swirl it round, feel knuckles
Sucked under, touch the grille,
And, as a tap asperges
The corpse-strewn aftermath,
Find what you hummed were dirges
For spiders in the bath.

The Wrong of Spring

The spring! The spring! All hearts should leap,
But garden center tills go Beep!
As those with plots that earn their keep
Need implements by no means cheap,
Whose prices are, in truth, quite steep
For pockets rather less than deep.

Now gastropods awake from sleep
While things hatch in the compost heap
That start to crawl or fly or creep
Where tender shoots begin to peep
To crop them worse than hungry sheep,
A horticultural clean sweep!

Both lowly drudge and lordly Veep,
Incensed, emote like Meryl Streep
And utter curses (Bleep! Bleep! Bleep!)
Then sow again, in hopes to reap
Pea, carrot, parsnip, onion, neep . . .
Spring’s dark side makes the angels weep!

Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England and edits the quarterly Lighten Up Online. His verse has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web publications such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Light, The Asses of Parnassus, The New Verse News, Per Contra, The Rotary Dial, and Snakeskin.