Paris Award

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 Poems by Writer Barbara Smoker


Song of Dispraise

Toy Boy

A Black Parody

The Fall

Freewill v Determinism

Living Relay

CofE Conversion

National anthem

An Oldie Magazine Prize Winner


" ....a parody of a hymn that was entered for a Spectator poetry competion."


All  things grim and horrible,
All creatures doomed to pain,
Since predators and parasites,
And dread diseases reign.

Were they planned by thee, O Lord,
When thou created birth?
If so - good God! - why didst thou curse
Our little planet, Earth?

Godmen teach that faith in thee
Will bring us future bliss -
But how could any future world
Undo the wrongs in this?

Thine the power to make life good,
Yet chose to let it be?
f so, we human creatures have
No cause to worship thee.

Toy Boy

(Written in 1996 - eighty years after the Somme)

'When the boys come home from the front,' she said,
'I'll pick the one I wish to wed'
Forgetting, in her hazy head,
Theyr'e eighty years in flanders, dead.

For fifty years she'd lived alone,
With only cats to call her own,
She  now  lives in a nursing-home,
Bereft of everything she'd known.

Her visitors look far too old
To be the people she is told.
Her face is blank, her heart is cold,
For lack of a hero's hand to hold.

At last, although no soldier-boy,
A cuddly new love brings her joy:
Her idle arm finds fresh employ,
To stroke her furry feline  toy.

A Black Parody

With Conti-tours I strolled along
In glaring, Grecian, April heat,
When all at once I saw a throng,
A squirm of tadpoles at my feet.

Their puddle, shrinking fast away,
Could hardly last another day. 
A few weeks since, in weather cool
And damp, some frogs their spawn had shot 

Into the seeming perfect pool;
But soon the sun shone daily hot
And drained the water, arching gills ....
How far from Wordsworth's daffodils !

But like his number, roundly guessed,
Two thousand saw I at a glance,
The outer wriggles inward pressed,
Jerking their tails in frantic dance.

No creature there would ever know
How tadpoles into frogs may grow.
Now, oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bane of solitude;
And then black anguish fills my heart:
How life bids fair, but to depart.


The Fall

Suppose God planned the perfect plan,
why let what Adam ate destroy it all,
for beast and man?Up to Top
And why blame Eve, his mate?

Suppose the tree tabooed in Eden
bore no fruit at all,
so nothing sinful could be eaten
there would be no Fall.

Suppose that God's blue-printed Earth
were pristinely persistent,
there'd be no death, and hence no birth -
no you nor I exist

Suppose that Genesis be true:
our global population
would have ever totalled two
had there been no temptation.

Suppose creationists prove wise
in swallowing the Fall -
what sort of God would victimise
all creatures, great and small?

CofE Conversion

A pope conferred on Henry Eighth

The style "Defender of the Faith".

On his accession, Charles the Third

Struck out the "the". (Explicit word.)

So now all cultures worship share,

Reciting unspecific prayer.

Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews-

One's private doctrines each may choose.

Thus: Paradise? Reincarnation?

Universal Affirmation

Leaves the details up to you.

Select your end -- or blend the two.

Theology is out of date;

There's no more argument, no hate.

Now only atheists demur -

And even they the truce prefer.

 May 2007

'Freewill v Determinism'


Opposing Hume's deterministic view,

Freewill for humankind did Kant infer

To justify God's ire when people err.

Which view is true? Has Hume or Kant won through?

While we may choose to do what we prefer,

We cannot choose what we prefer to do.


Living Relay

In this, the only world we know,

as people come so people go.
Not one alive was living when

Charles Dickens held a restless pen,

yet, as a child, I met a man
who'd known him. Such a living span

takes only two: if six we link ...
then Shakespeare dips a quill in ink.
If twenty-one? Mohammed gives
to scribes a screed, through which he lives.

Choose thirty ... join the multitude
for which Christ Jesus conjures food;

on thirty-six, with Plato feast;
two more for sages of the East.
Count forty-three ... hear Homer tell

the Trojan tale he'd heard as well.

One hundred, say ... salute the day
when writing starts, with signs on clay.

Two thousand ... and we're face to face
with founders of the human race.
Yes, each has been and each has gone; yet ... each a torch has handed on.

Barbara Smoker

This poem (probably the only one ever written with the aid of a calculator won a prize in the Literary Review monthly competition, but has never appeared



National anthem

There have been many appeals recently for a new British national anthem, the belligerent xenophobia of the present wording being increasingly at odds with modern sentiment.

The most widespread proposal is Blake's "Jerusalem", which certainly has a better tune - but, again, the words are far from ideal: it is exclusively English; the opening verse is based on a silly Christian legend; and "dark satanic mills" are happily a thing of the past. Anyway, changing the tune of a national anthem only leads to confusion - especially in the Olympic Games - so we really are stuck with the traditional tune, however unloved; but not with the words.

I would therefore suggest a new lyric to fit the old tune. Here is my own stab at it. (Sing it, to get the rhythm.) Can any reader improve on it?

Britannia's people, we,

Bound to her rule, yet free,

Since it is just.

Newcome or British-born,

Great Britain is our home,

Her human rights our own

Hold them in trust.

This spiriting our song,
With pride we sing along

Not, though, too proud.

All in the light of day,

Rebels can have their say;

Fair play the British way

Let's sing it aloud!

Yes,it is a bit over-stated, but that is in the very nature of patriotic anthems. I would not, of course, expect it to be adopted officially overnight. 

However, on the evolutionary principle, when a new alternative to

some outworn usage becomes available, the better often - gradually ousts the worse.

'An  Oldie magaine' prize winner:

"See my finger's wet, see my finger's dry,
Cut me throat if I ever tell a lie!"
Thus ran the cockney pledge of truth
We chanted in our pre-war youth -
With spittle, not a sacred book,
No godhead called upon to look
In judgement on our tribal cult,
To guarantee a fair result
In any game coerced to play
At diktat of the dawning day:
Just spittle on ones own forefinger
Across one's suicidal throat,
Was potent as a courtroom oath
Or medieval inquisition,
Binding us in scared submission.