Poetry

Poem by Roger McGough

Let Me Die A Youngman’s Death

Let me die a young man’s death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holy water death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I’m 73
and in constant good tumor
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an all night party

Or when I’m 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber’s chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted Tommy guns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I’m 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a young man’s death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not curtains were drawn by angels borne
‘What a nice way to go’ death

The Lesson

Chaos ruled OK in the classroom
as bravely the teacher walked in
the nooligans ignored him
his voice was lost in the din
‘The theme for today is violence
and homework will be set
I’m going to teach you a lesson
one that you’ll never forget’

He picked on a boy who was shouting
and throttled him then and there
then garrotted the girl behind him
(the one with grotty hair)

Then sword in hand he hacked his way
between the chattering rows
‘First come, first severed’ he declared
‘fingers, feet or toes’

He threw the sword at a latecomer
it struck with deadly aim
then pulling out a shotgun
he continued with his game

The first blast cleared the backrow
(where those who skive hang out)
they collapsed like rubber dinghies
when the plug’s pulled out

‘Please may I leave the room sir? ‘
a trembling vandal enquired
‘Of course you may’ said teacher
put the gun to his temple and fired

The Head popped a head round the doorway
to see why a din was being made
nodded understandingly
then tossed in a grenade

And when the ammo was well spent
with blood on every chair
Silence shuffled forward
with its hands up in the air

The teacher surveyed the carnage
the dying and the dead
He waggled a finger severely
‘Now let that be a lesson’ he said

First Day At School

A millionbillionwillion miles from home
Waiting for the bell to go. (To go where?)
Why are they all so big, other children?
So noisy? So much at home they
Must have been born in uniform
Lived all their lives in playgrounds
Spent years inventing games
That doesn’t let me in. Games
Those are rough, that swallow you up.

And the railings.
All around, the railings.
Are they to keep out wolves and monsters?
Things that carry off and eat children?
Things you don’t take sweets from?
Perhaps they’re to stop us getting out
Running away from the lessons. Lessin.
What does a lesson look like?
Sounds small and slimy.
They keep them in the classrooms.
Whole rooms made out of glass. Imagine.

I wish I could remember my name
Mummy said it would come in useful.
Like wellies. When there are puddles.
Yellowwellies. I wish she was here.
I think my name is sewn on somewhere
Perhaps the teacher will read it for me.
Teacher. The one who makes the tea.

First Day At School

A millionbillionwillion miles from home
Waiting for the bell to go. (To go where?)
Why are they all so big, other children?
So noisy? So much at home they
Must have been born in uniform
Lived all their lives in playgrounds
Spent years inventing games
That doesn’t let me in. Games
That is rough, that swallows you up.
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