Jerome Betts


Brief Handles

Great wits, but simple surnames! Pope, Swift, Gay,
Or Keats and Burns, the churchyard-haunter Gray,
Like Clare, and Crabbe, along with Hood and Praed,
Found fame, one-syllabled, that will not fade.
Then Yeats, Frost, Plath . . . and did I mention Blake?
Why weren’t poor John and Will born Milt and Shake?


with apologies to P. Larkin 

They eye you up, your mum and dad,
When past the stage of cot-side thrills,
And wonder if they’ve not been had,
But then for years they foot your bills.

They hope you have a safe career,
The law, the City, lots of cash,
Attempting not to interfere
Faced by your lack of drive and dash.

They hand on precepts, which you hate,
Stale wisdom that you jeer and slight,
Until one day it dawns, too late,
Your parents, after all, were right.


Where white-faced cattle chew their cuds
Most people call them Herifuds
With syllables that total three
And in this matter they agree
With ancients born among the herds
Who speak of them as ‘Erefurrds.

If, in the USA, some do
Reduce the syllables to two
(As in blank verse, it would appear,
By William S. from Warwickshire)
All frown upon the foreign hordes
For whom the beasts are Herefords.

Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, but comes from Herefordshire, 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, Better Than Starbucks, Light, The Asses of Parnassus, The New Verse News, Parody, Per Contra, The Rotary Dial, and Snakeskin.