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Peter Phelps

The Poet's Choice - R.T.T. or C.U.P. ?




                             “I hear you're a bit of a poet”

                             A neighbour once said to me.

                             “Yes, 'bit of' is probably right” I replied

                             “and that's all I'm likely to be”.


                             “Oh, so what's your style ?” he continued

                             “I hope you make everything rhyme”

                             I told him that plenty of poets would say

                             That to do so is almost a crime.


                             And also whenever the writing's 'free form'

                             even more people strongly oppose

                             by stating that such styles are hardly the norm

                             as its obviously just 'chopped-up prose'


                             And so my 'style' frequently varies

                             from 'rum-te-tum' (that's R.T.T.)

                             to other strict forms using 'chopped up prose'

                             which some might declare 'C.U.P.'                  






                             My wife made up a novel dish

                             Of juicy melon slices

                             Topped up with cauliflower florets.

                             She said "One of my nicest".


                             "And what is more", she added

                             "I think they're rather jolly".

                             But I said, with a solemn face,

                             "I think they're melon-caulie"




'Look , Dad, a cow'



                             It must be fifty years at least

                             since, travelling from West to East

                             (formerly G.W.R.).

                             The train slowed down in countryside

                             allowing us to gaze each side

                             at objects near and far.


                             Our little girl, then almost four,      

                             excited at the views before

                             her bright eyes open full.

                             'Look, Dad, a Cow' she said with pride.

                             I couldn't put her joy aside

                             by saying 'It's a Bull”







(syllabic line-count 2-4-6-8-2 sometimes referred to as the third format)




at the dentist

the usual check-up.

'All clear again' she said. I said

'Hooray !'




More rain -

gardens need it

but why does it have to

happen on a Bank Holiday ?

Again !





the train is in -

make sure it's the right one.

We only just made it in time.






Each year quicker

but I've stopped counting now.

Well, that's what I tell everyone.

Good Day.




The dog,

now quite alert

and looking at his lead,

thinks 'why is he taking so long?'

Thick fog !




Each year

she comes over

from Denmark on the plane.

We have to check times and delays.

She's here !




“Let's go

to the big match”

(in a strange town), they said.

“Follow the crowd” We finished up in

Tesco !






This is not a poem decrying the validity of ownership. It deals with the current situation and habits. Also it bears in mind that we enter this world, and also leave it, with nothing -at any rate nothing tangible. The end of the 5th stanza
leads into a declaration of the worthlessness of material possessions in any other plane of existence.
The poem concludes that we cannot possess people - even those that we love.



                             The air I breathe is a chemical compound

                             Shared by us all – fantastic machines

                             Pulling it in and puffing it out.

                             No piece of air is mine, or yours,

                             Or his, yet we are all using it.        

                             There is enough to go round.


                             The cash I use is paper or plastic

                             Used by us all, centred on self,

                             Grabbing it in and doling it out.

                             That balance small is mine, and you have

                             Yours, and we are all holding on to it.

                             There is not enough to go round.


                             The food I eat is a curious mixture.

                             They say we all eat far too much -

                             Mocking the basic hunger of mankind.

                             My helping or your portion, and our waste

                             Their death. And we are all chewing the

                             Fat that feeds the official pyre.


                             The clothes I wear are a compromise.

                             Just as we all, according to gender,

                             Play down our bad points and point up

                             Our fancied good, while the rebel

                             Chooses his uniform of non-conformity

                             With care – lest he be misread.


                             The things I own are a motley collection

                             Such as we all, depending on means,

                             Accrue as our credit in bricks and mortar

                             Lawns and borders, goods on order,

                             Souvenir hoarders – all of it worthless

                             Against the final debt that all must pay

                             So then, are all things nothing worth ?

                             Yes, except our love for others

                             And their love for us; for though intangible

                             It is the only one that's real.

                             How can this be ? I do not know,

                             Although I know that it is so.


                             Therefore, the you I love must be the treasure

                             Quite separate and all alone

                             Though sharing the world with others.

                             You give yourself to me

                             But cannot forfeit your identity.

                             Nor can I possess, or give away, such wealth.                 



Faith or Hope


Think of the thousands who have died in faith,

Sure in their sacrifice, and certain

In their early death that this last

Act provides a passport to

Their Golden crown.


Each believing that Country, Ideology or Cause

Is greater than their own identity.

Treading their blinding beams like summer

Insects, to turn in to a dancing leap

The last dread fall.


But, when faith ebbs it leaves an empty

Shore stretching away without a sign,

Marked only by the footprints of a

Time-locked pattern that we call our

Past.  Telling all.


The footprints show how we have reached

Our present place, and where we should

Have kept, or changed, our course.

Picking up knowledge as we go, guided

Or dogged by past experience


We move through time, by ignorance hard pressed

and hardly seen, primed by an instinct ancient as

the rocks.


No men of faith have come this way,
With closed conviction lighting up

Their path, as well as granting

Guiding strength within.


And yet – there is a kind of faith that

Keeps us moving – knowledge of others.

Friend or stranger, on their separate shores

Marking their course as we do.


Perhaps someone is in the next bay –

             Coming this way?




Poem Growing


I feel a poem coming on –

Just as one might a sickness.

I must be sure, not be obscure

Or slip down into slickness.


Sometimes I’m searching for a word

I find I cannot find,

And, much as it is needed,

It will not come to mind.


Then, suddenly, it dawns on me,

Though dawn is not yet come,

Yet, if I do not write it down,

Come daylight it has gone.


The ancients knew of this full well,

They hoped their special muse

Would visit them, and also tell

That special word to use.


They also knew, or so they said,

That if one was not prepared

To receive one’s muse, and hear her views,

Her visits would be rare.


I think that what they called their muse

We might call inspiration,

But that won’t make it easier

To achieve one’s full intention.


For a poem that’s elusive

                 will never be conclusive

Or reach a state that others wish to borrow.

So I’ll try and get a few hours sleep.


                               Better luck tomorrow!





Copyright Peter Phelps

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© Anthony Roberts