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Three Beat Poems

by Mickey 

Posted: 07 October 2017
Word Count: 129
Summary: I wrote these after watching “Sex, Chips & Poetry: 50 Years of The Mersey Sound” on BBC4. It inspired me to dig out the original and to attempt some of my own

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Lovers’ Tiff
I’m hanging
     on your every line
     pegged out
     to dry
     …... waiting
     my breath is bated
     will you bite
     or should I
     …… broadcast
     to the nation
     that war has
     …… declared?

I suggested we elope
     but you said “nope
          it’s too far to go”
We’ve still not been
     to Gretna Green
          but I hold out hope
that one day soon
     you’ll go all the way
          waddya say?
Ode to a poem
You were my first born
twentysixyearsago today
happy birthday opus one
I remember your gestation

        in my mind

before I delivered you
ontothepages of this world
Would I change you?

        not one line

In you I am well pleased,
the first of many
poem children
    born out of wedlock
        but entirely


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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 17:02 on 08 October 2017  Report this post
Hi Mike – I like these. Concise and witty, all three of them. I’ll get back to you, if not the day before tomorrow, then tomorrow! wink


Mickey at 20:45 on 08 October 2017  Report this post
Thank you James.  I look forward to yesterday  wink

FelixBenson at 21:17 on 08 October 2017  Report this post
That's so funny, Mickey, I am just watching that documentary now and hearing these sparky, funny classic poems from Mersey Beat, and here are your funny and sparky beat poems to read in WW. What a find.

Each of them is perfectly crafted. And, is there any more satisfying rhyme that elope/nope/hope, that's my favourite rhyme in all the three, it's like a jigsaw piece being put in place.

I like the suspense and pauses you have injected into Lover's Tiff too. It works to great effect - you can hear the stroppy silence in the room. And there is a good balance between the opening line ('You left me hanging'), and then you have all those dangling sentences.

The final one is great too - congrats on 26 years of poem writing. I loved the way the poem talked of your first poem's origins:

the first of many
poem children
    born out of wedlock
        but entirely

Three more - all totally legit!

I enjoyed reading these, thanks.

Mickey at 22:27 on 08 October 2017  Report this post
Thank you so much for your enthusiasm Kirsty.  I hadn’t read ‘The Mersey Sound’ for ages and, to be perfectly honest, I probably wasn’t ready for it then, so watching the TV programme re-ignited my interest.  I enjoyed the collection much more having seen the documentary, and it seems to have inspired me because I’ve written sixteen new pieces over the weekend!  I’m glad that you liked ‘Frustration’ although I thought it the least like those early Liverpool Beat Poems.  My favourite is ‘Lovers Tiff’ because it uses words hanging in the air like washing on a line, then bated breath and will she take the ‘bait’ (bated).  Then the fishing idea is extended to casting (‘broadcasting’) which then is broadcast over the airwaves to the nation that war has been declared (between the lovers?)  Interestingly, I’ve written one called ‘The Mersey Sound’ based entirely on ‘Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ lyrics which was released at the same time as the poetry collection, and also a couple more short ‘Beat’ ones like these three.  Thanks again for reading me

Cliff Hanger at 08:28 on 09 October 2017  Report this post
Hi Mike

I'd better comment then, before we get sixteen new ones! I've no idea what the background to this is but I agree they are all sparky, fun, engaging poems. I like Lover's Tiff best too because it seems simple but is cleverly constructed and expressed.


Mickey at 11:11 on 09 October 2017  Report this post
I have mentioned before that I am always surprised at the hidden depths of completely unconscious ‘meaning’ that were never intended, that readers find in other writers’ poems (certainly mine!).  James recently stated much the same in a reply to a comment on his work.

My piece ‘Lovers Tiff’ is different.  In this poem I have consciously tried to string together linked but disparate images in a kind of surreal string of ideas that nevertheless describe the underlying theme of a (temporary?) break in a relationship.  As I said in the summary, this was written after re-reading ‘The Mersey Sound’ and is intentionally styled on the work of Roger McGough, whose light-hearted surrealism and word play I greatly admire.
In the poem, the narrator is hanging on her ‘every line’, a variant of her ‘every word’ which implies the same thing but which suggests hanging ‘on’ a physical line like washing.  He’s ‘pegged out to dry’ reinforcing the washing line idea but also suggesting she has the upper hand in the situation (a flippant phrase similar, say, to ‘stitched up like a kipper’) and he is ‘waiting’ for her to make the next move.

This idea of ‘waiting’ is continued with his bated breath, and he wonders if she will take that bate (bait) or should he ‘cast’ his hook further afield and ‘broadcast’ his seed wider.  The word ‘broadcast’ is more usually used these days to describe an announcement to the nation (radio or TV) and recalls Neville Chamberlain’s famous speech declaring war on Germany after his attempts to secure peace had failed, rather like the protagonist in this poem.

I hope it doesn’t lose too much in the translation because I was particularly pleased with having been able to actually achieve some of the ‘hidden depths’ I am usually so unaware of!    

James Graham at 21:15 on 09 October 2017  Report this post
Hello Mike – Now it’s the day after yesterday and I find a lot of interesting things have been said, including your own explanations. The word play in all three poems is extremely clever. I did get the fishing idea – bated/ bite/ broadcast, plus waiting too I think, because anglers do a lot of that, and so the word has a double meaning. He waits and waits but she is a fish that refuses to nibble. And I did think of Chamberlain’s radio announcement. The analogy is surprisingly appropriate, with a hint that, just as Chamberlain wasn’t up to the job, maybe this guy isn’t very good at making peace in a stand-off with a woman. Many men aren’t – they make too many excuses for themselves, trying to justify what they said or did, forgetting that the only way is to be boot-lickingly humble and apologise unreservedly, even if she was in the wrong. I’ll say it again – this is an extremely clever, witty poem. My favourite of the three, though the others are pretty close.

Like you I greatly admire McGough. I’m not sure these poems are exactly in the style of McGough, but they’re certainly in the spirit of McGough. I hope you won’t mind if I go on about him a bit. He often crosses lines that more morally upright (or politically correct, maybe) people wouldn’t cross; they would say his poems are in bad taste, whereas for anyone with a well developed sense of humour (or any schoolteacher) McGough’s surreal humour wins the day. I’m thinking of his poem ‘The Lesson’, in which a teacher massacres his whole class.
He picked on a boy who was shouting
and throttled him then and there
then garrotted the girl behind him
(the one with grotty hair)

then he pulls a gun and shoots the whole back row, who ‘collapsed like rubber dinghies/ when the plug's pulled out’. The Head looks in at one point and
nodded understandingly
then tossed in a grenade

As I say, many people would think this is going much too far. But it is a joke – and above all, it’s a fantasy. I remember from my time as a teacher in what was called a ‘frontline’ school,  just after the Scottish tawse (leather strap) was abolished, somebody in the staff  room saying ‘What we need are guns’. Then you wouldn't have to make a stroppy youth shut up and sit down by sheer force of personality; you'd draw your handgun and say 'Shut up and sit down!' The idea was remembered and often after an eventful day someone would reiterate the need for guns. The poem is spot on – it’s every teacher’s fantasy.

Now I realise I’ve gone on at ridiculous length about McGough. To get back on track, your poem ‘Frustration’ crosses a line too, rather less dangerously than McGough’s. Your joke about going all the way to Gretna Green and just going all the way is one that might well be sniffed at – but only by people afflicted with too much rectitude and lacking a well-developed sense of humour. This too is a clever poem, simpler than ‘Lovers’ Tiff’ but it makes its point.

For me ‘Ode to a poem’ works by humour of recognition. I smile at the idea that poems are ‘born out of wedlock’ but ‘legitimate’, and also smile a little out of envy because when I look at my early poems I’m not ‘well pleased’ at all, I’m depressed at how awful they are!


Thomas Norman at 21:19 on 09 October 2017  Report this post
These are quite wonderful Mike, McGough would be proud to have written them smiley

I love them all but my favourite is Lovers' Tiff. The way you've set it out is magical!

You are brilliant at writing comic verse, something I find very difficult. Well done


Mickey at 13:22 on 10 October 2017  Report this post
James and Thomas

Thank you both for your kind comments.  Thomas, I find it very difficult writing serious verse, although, coincidentally, I have found that the surrealism of these latest attempts has freed me temporarily from my obsession with rhyme (I think I probably overdosed on the rhyming couplets of the Rupert Bear annuals that Father Christmas left every year!)

James, thank you for reminding me of ‘The Lesson’.  I’ve got a piece in the archive called ‘Classroom Tactics for the PC-Inhibited School Teacher’ advocating much the same thing which I wrote in 2006 and sent to both the NUT and the NASUWT.  It was actually published in the Daily Mail too!

Yes, I am still happy with my very first poem if only because it started me off on the subsequent (Tennyson’s ‘noble’?) 600.  My reference to being ‘well pleased’ was a nod to God in Mat 3:17, but no one seemed to notice that.  I suppose it’s a bit arrogant comparing myself to McGough and God?


V`yonne at 17:09 on 10 October 2017  Report this post
Each one is entertaining and concise and they made me smile. Great beat poems. I would never think to try the like of that and you pull it off so well yes

joanie at 17:35 on 10 October 2017  Report this post
Hi Mike.  I have just been to Liverpool for a couple of days, just because...........  I love it! 

I can hear these spoken in a Livepool accent - brilliant!  I'm laughing and crying at the same time and really enjoying them.  Isn't that what poetry is about -'enjoying them'?  Excellent.


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