'Spoon With A View' by Jonathan Humble is Write Out Loud's Poem of the Week
‘Spoon With A View’, a comic poem about ageing by Jonathan Humble, is the new Write Out Loud Poem of the Week. Jonathan, a deputy headmaster, says on his profile that he has also worked as painter, a lettuce picker, and as an engineer in the power industry. In a quick Q&A he told us about growing up in Goole, where he was encouraged in his writing by one of his teachers, and discouraged from composing love poetry by a factory owner's beautiful daughter:
What got you into writing poetry?
As a spotty 16-year-old youth, working as a painter at a corrugated card factory outside Goole, I started writing love poetry to the Dutch owner’s beautiful daughter … at which she laughed. This made me realise that love poetry was not my oeuvre and a rethink was required.
How long have you been writing?
Since my English teacher Mrs Collings at Goole grammar school told me I was good at it.
Do you go to any open-mic nights?
I read my stuff regularly at Verbalise (Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal) and occasionally at Big Charlie Poet’s gaff (The Three Mariners, Lancaster). I have also done the open mic at Spotlight a couple of times (The Storey, Lancaster).
What’s your favourite poet/poem?
I admire Dom Conlon and Laura Mucha very much for their excellent children’s poetry; ‘Night Errand’ by Eric Berlin [this year’s National Poetry Competition winner] made me cry when I read it, but I wouldn’t call it my favourite; and I think Zaffar Kunial is a genius ... but I choose Kim Moore and ‘My People’ for both categories. Amongst many other things, Kim works with the Dove Cottage Young Poets (one of whom is my daughter Emily) and I love the passion that comes through in her work.
You're cast away on a desert island. What's your luxury?
Not a spoon …
SPOON WITH A VIEW ...
by Jonathan Humble
While in the kitchen quite alone, with life’s millstone around my neck
And contemplating what to do, without a clue, a total wreck,
I thought I’d have a cup of tea, did not foresee the consequence,
Was absolutely unaware of who was there; my audience.
For hidden out of general view, an image grew upon the spoon
I’d used to stir my soothing brew; a face I knew but in cartoon.
And there reflected convex-wise, to my surprise, my life made sense,
For as the low November sun had grievous fun at my expense,
The gargoyle in the spoon was me, with mild ennui, a pending fate;
The future looking back aghast, at erstwhile past upon this date.
Distortions might seem insincere, but I was clear I’d seen the truth:
That I must not in thought betray, or ever say goodbye to youth.
For when I’m old and gone to seed, and hope indeed, quite disappears;
When hair migrates from off my pate, to relocate in nose and ears;
When as I rise up from my chair, my groans declare decrepitude;
And after bathing, I object to my reflection in the nude,
I shall return to times long past, when in contrast my feet could fly,
When as a youth I was quite lean, and less obscene upon the eye.
To when my mind was sharp and clear, and pints of beer did not rush through
My kidneys to my bladder sac, to send me back off to the loo.
I’ll mutter as my sixth age slips, with wrinkled lips, to old buffoon,
With spectacles upon my nose, before I doze mid-afternoon;
A shrunken shank upon the stage, into old age just as Will said:
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans everything … unflattering; the waiting dead.
Alas, alack and three time woe, I moved too slowly from my chair,
For from that fateful stirring spoon, that afternoon, it grabbed my hair.
It grabbed my ears, it pulled me in, and in a spin filled with concern
I moved beyond the mortal sphere, to where I fear I’ll not return.
So my advice to all out there, who in despair go make a brew,
Treat spoons with care and run a mile, if it should smile right back at you …