Jerome Betts


Algebraic Episode

Fishing fruitlessly not far from Wales,
They resolve to change river and fly
And their luck, as in many such tales,
So they drive down to Devon to try.
Alas, decency makes us draw veils
Over just what we then hear them cry
As, for absence of scales on the scales,
They discover that Exe equals Wye.

Hot Spot

(After reading an advertisement for a gamekeeper
offering a “3-bedroomed cottage with central
heating” on the estate of someone descended
from a member of the 18th-century Hell Fire Club.)

Dear Sir, the cottage (herewith key)
Surpassed my expectation—
Downstairs and up, the bedrooms (3)
And state of decoration—
Nor could I ever hope to see
A warmer situation,
Yet all the same it has for me
Become past contemplation.

The reason is too long to tell,
Indeed, I fear, eternal,
But let me here strip off the shell
And bare the problem’s kernel
(On which your advert did not dwell
Placed in The County Journal):
Oh, sir, that central heating’s smell
Is really quite infernal!

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.