London’s Docklands, post-gentrification‘London’s Docklands, Pre-Gentrification’ and Other Poetry by Peter Austin The Society September 13, 2020 Culture, Humor, Poetry 15 Comments London’s Docklands, Pre-Gentrification from a sonnet by Wordsworth Earth has not anything to show more foul Unless it be the same neath fog and rain; But no, for like Rasputin’s reechy mane This horror craves occulting in a cowl: Abandoned buildings, cheek by scabrous jowl, Eyes boarded shut or peering all in vain Through dirt and bird-slime’s cataractal skein, Each oblong mouth a rotting, splintered scowl; And see below the wharf, where brownish flows The Thames, between whose banks in days of old To trumpet flourish, every schoolchild knows Rode king and consort, caped in cloth of gold. Today, a rusting toaster seaward goes, A toilet seat, a sandwich robed in mould. Hope Without Work from a sonnet by Coleridge All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair: The bees are stirring, birds are on the wing And, on his smiling face a dream of spring, Winter is dozing in the open air, While I, sole idle thing, who ought to care, Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing, Being—for shame!—the sole unbusy thing, At least from my perspective, anywhere. But, somehow, care I don’t, for I’m retired (Forty-odd years’ of sweat already spent) And, but for the dentures that I’ve acquired, The rocky knees, the back (painfully bent), The flagging sex-drive (soon to be expired) And hemorrhoidal itching, I’m content! Old Age from a sonnet by Chambers Baird Old age, I harbour you, a welcome guest, Who count no fretting hopes yet unfulfilled But know, with ardent youth’s wild tremor stilled, The lulling cadences of measured rest. My children’s children someone else has dressed; Their diapers, ere what lies within be spilled, Are readily renewed by one more skilled, Who feeds them at her ever-willing breast. All would be well, but for my troublous knee (Arthritis-racked), my false teeth (ill of fit), My bladder’s habit unannounced to wee, Whilst I—vile irony!—must strive to shit. Elsewise (barring under-denture debris), Life had been sweet as a banana split. Peter Austin is a retired Professor of English who lives in Toronto with his younger two daughters. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 15 Responses Joe Tessitore September 13, 2020 If a poem is in its ending, has there been three better poems writ? What rhymes compare to wee and debris, to shit and banana split? What a way to start a Sunday! Reply Peter Austin September 14, 2020 Joe: I’m glad I helped your Sunday get off to a good start (if that’s what you meant!). Peter Reply Peter Hartley September 13, 2020 Peter – These are all brilliant, particularly the first with its recherché vocabulary: bird-slime’s cataractal skein, rotting splintered scowl etc. For a few moments I was transformed into a Victorian mud lark but quite glad, in a way, to be quickly teleported back to the present. I’m only sorry you managed to use the word reechy in these pages before I did. Reply Peter Austin September 14, 2020 Peter: All I can say is sorry, and that I haven’t taken out a copyright on ‘reechy’. Thanks for the comments, Peter Reply Allegra Silberstein September 13, 2020 Loved these poems …Old Age especially made me laugh. Reply Peter Austin September 14, 2020 Allegra: Thank you: I’m always glad when my stuff tickles the funny bone. Peter Reply Mike Bryant September 13, 2020 I found these takedowns of these few classics hilarious. Wonderful imaginative work. Reply Peter Austin September 14, 2020 Mike: Many thanks. It’s encouraging feedback that keeps me going. Peter Reply Margaret Coats September 13, 2020 The Docklands sonnet does a fine job of personifying the old buildings with the eye-and-mouth images. Also impressive is how the “king and consort, robed in cloth of gold” parallel the “sandwich robed in mould.” Like most of us, probably, I had not heard of Chambers Baird, so I looked for his Old Age sonnet, which turns out to have “After Many Years” as title, and found that the poet describes himself as a “silt-fraught stream,” thus recalling the Thames in your Docklands–although with nineteenth-century hope for the fertile silt bearing some fruit in retirement. Thanks both for your own work, Peter, and for the nod to this competent Ohio poet of yore. Reply Peter Austin September 14, 2020 Margaret: You are very welcome, and thank you very much for the thoughtful feedback. Peter Reply C.B. Anderson September 13, 2020 All three were exquisite, Peter Austin, slightly funny as only lines with somewhat horrifying images can be. And, of course, the technical elements were handled masterfully. You never disappoint. Reply Peter Austin September 14, 2020 CB: Many thanks for the encouraging feedback. Yes, of course, the humor is meant to be wafted on a chilling wind. Peter Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant September 14, 2020 Peter, I love these! I will never be able to read “Upon Westminster Bridge” without a snigger having read the closing couplet of “London’s Docklands, Pre-Gentrification”. “Today, a rusting toaster seaward goes,/A toilet seat, a sandwich robed in mould.” is hilarious. And, from the deft alteration of word order in the title of “Hope Without Work” to the “hemorrhoidal itching” line, this poem is a triumph. But, you saved the best till last, and it should come with a warning… my sides are banana splitting! LOL Reply Peter Austin September 14, 2020 Susan: Thanks for the feedback. I’m sorry I spoiled Wordsworth’s sonnet for you, and I hope your sides have mended by now! Peter Reply Jeff Eardley September 15, 2020 Peter, I am not familiar with the original sonnets but these are highly amusing. I love the Cloth of Gold/ Sandwich mould thing and I am sure that Old Age is for you, nowhere near as bad as you describe. You must be an ex-Brit to write such wonderful, self deprecating and highly amusing stuff. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.