"Seven bums and fourteen legs,
a brazen ecstasy which begs
the question some of us are asking -
is Peter Goulding multi-tasking?"

Martin Parker, Editor, Lighten Up Online

Friday, November 26, 2010

Watch out - its the Bug Bus!

The Poetry Bus this week is in Ohio, driven by the ever-surprising Dana aka The Bug.
These are the prompts - (if you feel like hopping aboard, post your poem and copy and paste your link into Dana's comments. Or if you don't, please check out the other tickets proffered.)

1) Now, you might not be a religious person, but I'm sure that even so you have wanted to argue with God (or Allah or the sun or your own super ego) in some manner. If you choose this prompt I'd like you to tell us about that argument.
2) Write about the place you dream of living someday. Or if you're lucky enough to already live there write about home.
3) Write about leafless trees.

Okay, number two is out. I don't want to live anywhere. I'm just putting in my time before the flames of hell engulf me.
So, for my ticket this week I offer two poems - one about arguing with God, the other about a leafless tree.

Billy’s Questions

“Why can’t we have wings,” said Billy to God,
“The freedom to soar through the air?
It takes oh, so long when you’re walking along,
It takes ages to get anywhere.”

“Why can’t we have screws,” said Billy to God,
“To open our chests when we please?
By looking inside, it would be a great stride
In the fight against pain and disease.”

“Why can’t we have fur,” said Billy to God,
“It would help to protect us from cold.
Just think of the cost of the body heat lost
For the poor and the sick and the old.”

“Just think of the time,” said Billy to God,
“That we humans spend sleeping and dozing.
Think what we could do, if we did not have to
Waste hours inert and reposing.”

“Why must we have teeth,” said Billy to God,
“That hurt us from cradle to grave?
Were they made of steel, how much better we’d feel!
Just think of the toothaches we’d save.”

“Why don’t we have minds,” said Billy to God,
“To remember the things that we learn?
It's a nuisance to look for some paper or book -
Why can't we have brain cells to burn?”

At length came a moan like a roaring cyclone,
And God gave his answer to Billy: -
“I’m sick of your questions and clever suggestions.
Now, feck off, and stop being silly.”

One yellow leaf

Clinging tightly to the twig
like a first day child at the school gates,
the one yellow leaf
shivers in the stiff November breeze.
Inevitability denied
with irrational stubbornness,
it seeks to reverse the flow of rivers,
travel backwards in time
and snip the umbilical cord of the moon.

Passing by,
collar upturned and eyes slitted,
I admire its pathetic bravado,
in the same way that the last survivor
charges the lines of the enemy
with spear upturned.

There is a need for futility
in a world of purpose.

When I pass, the following day,
it is gone,
shaken loose and scolded on its way,
to join the millions mashed into the earth.
and I feel that I am nearer
my own time of clinging on stubbornly
against the odds.


  1. Now, see, your tree poem isn't the least bit smarmy. I wasn't able to manage that so I didn't do that prompt. In fact, your poem is closer to how I actually feel about fall in general - makes me introspective and a bit sad.

    Love the argument with God! Although I'm a person who prays, I do so knowing that I usually sound like Billy, so every now & then I just shut the feck up!

  2. Good woman, God!

    Like the second one too, Pete.Some lovely lines like...
    'travel backwards in time
    and snip the umbilical cord of the moon.'

    It is a shit scenario.We all fall eventually. I guess we've just got to make the most of our time on the tree. And write poems like this for people to ponder.

  3. I've got a just slightly similar leaf poem (called 'the Last Leaf')... never mind g-o-d the trees have all the answers!

  4. I liked the chat with God especially the bit about the fur. That would definitely be my question (one of them anyway).

    I'm having a bit of trouble with one line - the "Not to have to go look up..." seems a bit jam-packed to me. Can you shorten it somehow?

    I like the tree/leaf poem - really like how you turned it into a self-reflective bit at the end. Oh, and the use of "scolded" was really good too.


  5. Many thanks for the comment. Kat, you're absolutely right - that was a very clumsy construction. I've altered it now (hopefully for the better) Great feedback!

  6. Kat-tip must have worked!
    Really enjoyed them both, and what a range you have. Laughed at Billy, and was moved by the leaf and the leap to self. Lovely work.

  7. Oh, that is much better! (One good turn...)


  8. I loved 'Billy's Questions' ... especially his question about teeth! (Just sat through a 2+hour session with my dentist.) One yellow leaf? Equally as wonderful in a completely different way.

  9. What great takes! they flow and express themselves wonderfully!
    Really enjoyed your images, humor is great!

  10. The first one made me smile. I believe God does welcome our questions (Abraham, Ananais, and others), but He sure must be really happy when He gets an original one for a change!

    And that lonely leaf -- reminds me of the old Peanuts cartoons -- that one leaf that stubbornly resists time and elements to the end.

    May you be like that leaf this week!

  11. There is a need for futility
    in a world of purpose.

    Otherwise, how would we tell the difference?! LOL

  12. You told me you liked my imagination re: my leafless tree poem, and now it's a quid pro quo. I will remember for a long time the one yellow leaf clinging like a child to the school gate, shivering and not wanting to let go.
    And Billy was loads of fun. I like all of it, every last intriguing bit of it. I would do one last thing to that tinkered-with line, "It's a nuisance to look up some paper or book." 'Cause I am a lousy rhymer and I tripped over the "up," I would do this: "It's a nuisance to look [for] some paper or book..." Hahaha.
    You have a fine vocal range, Peter.

  13. Loved your questions to God poem, great endings. Let's get on with life so!!!

  14. Thank you very much for all the nice comments everyone.
    Chris, I mulled long and hard over your suggestion for at least ten seconds, before deciding that yup, you were right. Up goes with look and is out of place in the second half of the line. 'For' it is, so!

  15. Love precocious Billy, but I really admire the last leaf poem - its structure, imagery, and reflection.

  16. A wonderful set of questions - many that a child (and perhaps some adults) might ask. The ending is a hoot and a delight. The tenuous leaf is certainly does bring to mind out own gift of hanging on. Wonderful submissions! Take a seat near the front of the bus.

  17. I feel rather like your solitary leef, hanging on!Your ticket is first class, obviously.