Jerome Betts


Reunion Bile

Unwise, revisiting lost youth
To dine with varied co-survivors,
Some short of hair as long in tooth,
The bright, the dull, the swots, the skivers?

A drink to oil the memory’s cogs,
Gossip with half-remembered faces—
Who’s lost their money? Popped their clogs?
Which minds have gone, and left no traces?

There’s Jones, once rising literary star
Whose writings now reek thwarted rancour,
And Smith, less library than bar,
Today a bonus-bloated banker.

That’s Brown? So famed for scabrous wit,
Irreverent repartee and banter
That spared no sacred cow a hit?
A born-again God-bothering ranter!

James! You look fine! (Due box and hearse,
Poor doddering memento mori.)
My fate? Could well have been far worse.
(I’m not, like some, a brain-dead Tory.)

And look, our tyrant in a gown
Who crushed us with his verbal bludgeon
Has shrunk at last, three glasses down,
To one more mumbling old curmudgeon.

February Feel-Pulse

It’s no fun what this month entails,
Like kidney-shriveling cold and gales
Against which insulation fails,
And mounting numbers on the scales
Revealing diet off the rails.

Four weeks of never-ending bills,
Economy, no treats or frills,
And fevers, streaming colds, and chills
That leave you green about the gills,
Prostrated, limp, and popping pills.

If V’s Day pressure to disburse
Though last year’s frolic drained your purse
Makes you wish Time were in reverse,
Just think—yes, February’s a curse
But March may well be even worse.

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.