John Owen Smith – Poet

Humorous, Historical, or Odes to Order

Odes by the Month

.… also Photo-Verse where verse compliments a picture …


Below are some more standard stanzas . . .
. . . in which, of course, the words are worth a thousand pictures.

The Tooth Fairy

Today has been special, I just had to shout,
I was eating an apple, my first tooth came out!
It's under my pillow as safe as can be
and the Tooth Fairy's coming to leave me 10p. *

Shall I spend it on choc'late or sweets or a lolly?
Or save it for later to pay for a dolly?
But what if my sister is telling me right?
She says all the fairies are on strike tonight!
And she thinks that I'm silly and making a fuss,
and she says that I'm doing it so that I just
get attention from Mummy - but I think she's jealous,
and she's got more money than me now, as well as
the pound that she got for her birthday last week,
and there's Auntie's book token, 'cause I had a peek
in the box in her bedroom. But really I think
that she's fibbing, 'cause Mummy just gave me a wink
and she says that she's sure that the fairy will come
if I clean my teeth nicely and don't suck my thumb.

So I'm going to bed now, and straight off to sleep.
I think my Mum's nice, but my sister's a creep!

Poetry Digest 'Fun 91' - Runner Up - © 1974 JOS
* For those abroad, or with a short memory in the UK, 10 pence [that's 2 shillings in old money!] was the going rate for teeth in 1974. Lord knows what it is now - the daughters I wrote this poem for are now mothers themselves, so perhaps I should ask them!


Double Dactyl

Flippity-flappity,
Two pterodactyls
Soared up in the air
Where they wheeled and they jinked;

Whether their antics were
Extemporaneous
We'll never find out,
'Cause now they're extinct!

© 1990 JOS


Juno Beach and Beyond

On the 50th anniversary of D-Day, I was privileged to introduce a Canadian veteran to a class of 14-year olds at a local school in England.
They asked him some direct questions, and he gave them direct answers.
These are largely his words . . .

Fresh-faced fourteen, beautiful children,
boisterous scholars, with freedom to talk and argue, make their point,
and put their hats on back to front, in England, 1994.

That's why we fought and many big men cried
on Juno Beach and through the weeks beyond.

"And did you hate the Germans?" -
Fifty years ago, we had a job to do,
a Bully, if you like, to put in place,
and men like us but dressed in grey had their job too.
We didn't know of Belsen, Auschwitz and the rest;
not then. Perhaps, who knows, if we'd known half the truth
we farmers from the prairies, loggers from the seaboard,
might have hated more the conscripts from the hamlets of the fatherland
who traded shots with us among the stinking orchards there in Normandy.
But as it was, we had a job to do,
a worth-while job, and did it to our best.

"How old were you?" -
Eighteen, and scared of never seeing nineteen,
never having all the good things life had promised,
scared of dying, but, above all, scared of showing I was scared.
Just eighteen,
volunteered at sixteen, anxious then to see the world,
and found my future led across the bar of Juno Beach.

Eighteen,
but we were men compared with some of those in grey -
young boys, by-products of a system:
fresh-faced fourteen, beautiful children,
earnest students, with no freedom to talk or argue, make their point,
or put their hats on back to front like you in England now.

So let me look at you again,
your cheeky grins, your mischievous ways;
and let me remember the reason why -
it was all for you, and your smiling eyes
that we soldiered on and comrades died
on Juno Beach and beyond.

© 1994 JOS


Handle or Straight?

Your foreigner visiting pubs in old Blighty
is in for a bit of a 'do',
what with licensing hours that respect the almighty
and 'pay as you order', this could be all new to them;
leaving their children outside in the car
is clearly a thing that they hate,
but nothing's so queer as ordering beer
and being asked, "Handle or Straight?"

Now lager they've heard of, it's commonly drunk
in the countries they mostly call home,
and bitter and light they can fathom alright,
and brown ale and Guinness at least have a foam to them;
lemonade shandy's refreshing in summer,
a drink you might buy for your mate,
but what fools Peer Gynt when he orders his 'pint'
is being asked, "Handle or Straight?"

The games that we play may seem odd in a way,
what with crib and shove ha'penny and darts,
and the landlord's brusque style may occasionally rile
with the tone and the manner in which he imparts to them
news of the landlady's need for their glasses
when "time" has passed by and it's late;
but their memory p'raps, as they look at their snaps,
is of being asked, "Handle or Straight?"

Yes there's nothing so queer for our visitors here
as being asked, "Handle or Straight?"

© 1988 JOS


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