China’s footballers haven’t a clue
why they can’t go and get a tattoo,
but I think it might be
it’s since President Xi
is afraid they’ll choose Winnie the Pooh.



This Urge for the Truth

We strive for trusted knowledge in the guise
of Truth, but these days facts are prone to shift
their meaning when they’re buffeted by lies
and fibs and information that’s adrift.
Hold steady! Trust your instincts! Don’t be shy!
Speak up if you discover you’re misled;
tell those whose motivations are awry
that from their cozy rabbit holes you’ve fled.
Although you are but one, a single voice,
untainted by false loyalty to kin
can champion the liberty of choice
and cancel out the mind-distorting din.
__To seek out truth, to spurn the ovine horde,
__puts tyrants and false prophets to the sword.



Paul A. Freeman is the author of Rumours of Ophir, a crime novel which was taught in Zimbabwean high schools and has been translated into German. In addition to having two novels, a children’s book and an 18,000-word narrative poem (Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers!) commercially published, Paul is the author of hundreds of published short stories, poems and articles.

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11 Responses

  1. Cheryl Corey

    Clever limerick, Paul. Perhaps only a tattoo of Xi himself would be acceptable. There’s a lot of truth expressed in your second poem. It made me think of how we live an information age. We have more information and knowledge than at any time in history … but ah, do we have wisdom? Thanks for giving me food for thought.

    • Paul Freeman

      I think you could be right about the tattoo, Cheryl. Seems I’ll have to get my Boris Johnson tattoo removed soon! (That’s a joke, by the way.)

      My second poem allowed me to do a bit of deep cogitation on the state of play at the moment. I’m glad it resonated.

      Thanks for reading

  2. David Watt

    Paul, your words “but these days facts are prone to shift their meaning” is, unfortunately, so true.
    I hazard a guess that the Chinese authorities are working on the assumption that the weight of tattoo ink has been keeping them out of the World Cup finals.

    • Paul Freeman

      On the ‘shift of meaning’ topic, and not entirely unrelated, I went to see West Side Story the other day and was interested whether Maria would feel ‘pretty and witty and gay’, or ‘pretty and witty and bright’ as the alternate song lyrics go. Spielberg preempted this by having Maria sit next to a shop sign for ‘Witty Wear’ which was described as being ‘bright’.

      I sang the original lyrics in the cinema, just to be an embarrassing dad for my daughters.

      By the way, the two poems are unrelated. The former was primarily sent to raise a smile and to highlight the fact that ‘strongmen’ do not find satire aimed at them funny. This idea was explored on BBC’s HardTalk recently with Egyptian stand up comedian Bassem Youssef.

      The latter was another attempt to quantify in my own mind how some of the events going on around us are being reported.

      In 1984, Orwell says: “Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” Never has this been more true. Just as a prosaic example, I belonged to a book club where most members seemed to get their ideas from Wikipedia or Sparks Notes. I therefore came in for much derision for saying I thought The Road was based on The Wizard of Oz.

      Sorry, I seem to have gone off the leash! Thanks for reading and commenting, David.

      • Cheryl Corey

        I commend you for having the guts to sing aloud the original lyrics. I once wrote a short story in which the main character hears “the gay voices below” outside of his window. The editor took umbrage and changed “gay”. I hate to see the original meaning of a word hijacked.

  3. Peter Hartley

    Paul – a most chortle-inducing limerick, and regarding your second poem and comments above over how the truth can shift and innocuous words like “gay” have changed their meaning it is noticeable that the word “affordable” as in “affordable housing” is now a harmless substitute for “cheap,” for fear that cheap might sound cheap and nasty, offend the poor or disgruntle the financially challenged.

    • Paul Freeman

      Of course currently we’re getting varying degrees of meaning on what’s a ‘party’ and what’s a ‘meeting’.

      Glad you enjoyed the limerick and that the sonnet was food for thought, Peter.

  4. Jeff Eardley

    Paul, just hosing down the kitchen wall to remove all the coffee, spluttered out on reading the punchline of your brilliant Limerick. “The urge for the truth” is so topical at the moment now that Boris has gone to ground. I think the families of Covid victims will be sharpening their swords this weekend. Thank you for a most enjoyable read.

    • Paul Freeman

      I write a lot of limericks, Adam. It’s always heartwarming when everything comes together on one of them.

      Thanks for reading


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