Poetry written by characters in this story

In chapter 19 of Book 3: The Quality of Mercy, my heroes’ and heroines’ English teacher launched their first unit on poetry: what it is and how to write it. Gordon had been waiting ages to get his teeth into this subject. There’s an interesting discussion of the basics, which Zack expands on with Gordon later that evening.

Their homework was to write a poem that expressed an important idea in a powerful and poetic way. Their poems appear in chapters 26 – 28, but they’ve given me permission to post them on my reader’s wall as well. I think this set of six poems gives you an interesting glimpse into their characters and concerns. It also reveals the use they’ve made of some of the techniques that poets employ to express ideas in powerful ways.

Personally, I think they all did very well for eleven/twelve-year-olds. Of course, they are very bright to begin with. Nick and Miranda hadn’t acquired guardian angels of their own at this point in the story, and up to now (the end of Book 6), Kate and Sweeney haven’t had a go at writing poetry. You never know, however. Maybe my posting of Zack and Zoë’s efforts on this website will challenge them to produce poems of their own. If it does and they actually do write a poem each of their own, I’ll post them on this wall.

My Plan

In simple ways I want to make the world

A better place. If I can, I will count

Myself lucky; and with amazing grace

There’s a chance I might. A wizard once told

Me that I was his heir. To be fair

He also said I had a lot to learn.

 

And as my knowledge of the world unfurled

I realised what an enormous amount

There would be for me to do to keep pace

With everything that’s wrong. Could I be bold

Enough? Could I care enough? If I dare

To love, will people love me in return?

 

It won’t be easy. Sometimes you are hurled

Into a pit of doubt and fear. The Mount

Of Olives is desecrated; the face

Of evil smiles. That’s when you have to hold

Fast. I’m so aware that hope, not despair,

Is what matters. We can’t let the world burn.

Gordon Bennett

 

The Wall

“We down’ need now edge-U-kigh-shun…”

Dumb da-dumb (dumb dumb), dumb da-dumb (dumb dumb),

Roger had those schoolkids chant.

Dumb da-dumb (dumb dumb), dumb da-dumb (dumb dumb).

 

How wrong was that? A moaning rant

From a tortured soul on a narrow ledge

is one thing, all in all blaming baby

For the dirty waters in its bath.

 

But isn’t that entangled, hard-won path

To knowledge beset with thorns enough

In our inner cities? Does he know how tough

It is just to survive? I wish he knew:

 

What a difference schools are making.

Dum da-dum (dum dum), dum da-dum (dum dum),

The time and trouble teachers take

Dum da-dum (dum dum), dum da-dum (dum dum),

How many of them in those classrooms

Dum da-dum (dum dum), dum da-dum (dum dum)

Strive to keep kids’ dreams awake.

 

Dumb, da-dumb (three four), dumb da-dumb (three four)

Dumb da-dumb – HEY! ROGER!

Keep them dreams awake,

Dumb, dumb-dumb diddle-um (What a pillock),

All in all, you put another brick in their wall.

 

We all need much better school songs,

(Dum da-dum, dum dum; dum da-dum,dum dum)

Some of us, clearly, more than most,

(Dumb da-dumb, dumb dumb; dumb da-dumb, dumb dumb)

To try and right the many birthwrongs

(Dum da-dum, dum dum; dum da-dum,dum dum)

That tie us to the sticking post.

 

Dumb, da-dumb (three four), dumb da-dumb (three four)

Dumb da-dumb – HEY! WATERS!

Love them kids the most

Dumb, dumb-dumb diddle-um (What a pillock)

All in all, you told them

How to build their own wall.

 [Chorus to be sung by the Islington Green School Choir]

WE ALL NEED AN EDGE-U-KIGH-SHUN!

Dumb da-dumb (dumb dumb), dumb da-dumb (dumb dumb),

To help us thrive and tyke controwl.

(Dum da-dum, dum dum; dum da-dum, dum dum)

The charnce is right there in those clarserooms.

(Dum da-dum, dum dum; dum da-dum, dum dum)

Please down’t leave us kids alowne.

 

Dumb, da-dumb (three four), dumb da-dumb (three four)

Dumb da-dumb – TEACHERS! PLEASE DON’T

Leave those kids alone.

(Dum dum dum, diddle-um-diddle-um-dum)

 

All in all poor Humpty

Must have had a great fall;

(Dum dum dum, diddle-um-diddle-um-dum)

After which the Numpty

built his own bloody wall.

Zack Rampant

 

A Poem for Gordon

I’m only frightened now from time to time.

If I could be enlightened as to why,

I would climb out of this fear pit. I try

To find the strength. I’d go to any length

To find an answer. Tell me where to look.

I’ll listen to advice, read any book.

Do you know anything about coping

Strategies? I’m hoping you can help me

With the here and now bit, and the terror.

Is it possible there’s an error

In my makeup? Or is it trickery? –

A gimmick – like that Indian rope thing?

 

If I had a dad, he’d teach me to fight.

Or a guardian angel who’d be right

There for me through thick and thin.

But hang on. I HAVE got someone I rely upon:

My absolute best friend, who’s never scared

Of anything. He’s always been prepared

To see my monsters off. And when they go

They’re gone for good! Perhaps I’ll never know

How he does it, but now my life is fun.

Without him, I don’t know what I’d have done.

Nick Robinson

 

Rest In Me

I lost my mum when I was eight.

It was really hard. She asked me

To look after my dad. To date

I’ve done the best I can.

When he

Was lonely I took his hand so

We could remember together.

She was there too, ready to go

That extra mile for us, whether

We laughed or cried.

Then came the time

He told me that he’d found another mum

For me. By then I was ten and could mime

Acceptance, knowing I would come

Round to it if I tried.

It was what she

Would have wanted for him. I do know that.

“Look to the future,” she’d have said. “Be free

From grief at last. Put out a welcome mat

To happiness. Be glad for him.”

It’s nice

That he knows his own mind, and if she’s kind

To him why not? I’ve my own life to find.

Only…

I can’t bear the thought of losing her twice.

Miranda Lansbury

 

My Father

My father hides from us. I’ve looked for him

All my life. Sometimes I close my eyes and

Try to find his thoughts: they’re out there

Somewhere, on the other side of time.

 

There seems to be no rhyme or season in

His absence. It makes no sense to me.

I look for him in spring, when daffodils

Might have taken the winds of March

Out of his sails and slowed him down.

 

In summer, I hope to see him striding

Through the ripening corn, his face alight

With joy at finding us still looking.

In autumn, when the leaves drop from the oak

I glance up at its forlorn branches in

Case there’s a chance I will find him hiding,

Hoping to surprise and entrance us both.

 

But then winter comes, and I find myself

Wondering through my window at the frost

Whether somewhere in deep space he got lost

On his way back to mum and me.

I know he loves us. We may see him soon.

He’ll fly through a magic window

On the other side of the moon.

Grace Forrester

 

Sense and Sensibility

I’d much prefer the pleasures of the flesh:

The sweet scent of cinnamon or the fresh

Tang of citrus on the tongue. I would stroke

A young puppy and let it lick my face

Or roll in some icy snow then soak

In a nice hot bath. To let my pulse race

At the thought of another would be good:

To feel his touch; or let my senses swim

In the soar of a cathedral choir. Should

I get the chance I would watch the stars dim

In the light of dawn, just before the sun

Blinded me with brilliance. To smell fresh bread

I’m told is amazing. It would be fun

To run until my lungs hurt. You once said

You sometimes thought you would like to be me –

A guardian angel no-one can see –

and be free of the shocks flesh is heir to.

That’s interesting, ‘cause I’d rather be you:

So let’s swap – any time that you care to.

Zoë Nobody