school

Unseen Poem

OK. Turn the page. Right, here goes …
The first line’s straightforward, I suppose.
At least I know what the words all mean.
It has an AA BB rhyming scheme.
 
What’s that French word for when one line
runs into the next? Jambon? Never mind.
Susan Jenkins is smiling, I bet she knows.
Oh great! Now the rhymes have disappeared
 
and the language is getting more obfuscatory
by the stanza. The voice keeps changing.
At first, it was confident. But now it’s confused
uncertain (?) and … hesitant?
 
and as for this bit
what was the poet even thinking?
 
(personally, i think
they must have been drinking)
 
Susan Jenkins needs more paper.
I hate her. There are ten minutes left.
What’s this poem all about anyway?
No idea. I shall just have to guess.
 
I’ll say it’s a metaphor for death.

Teachers

Teachers
are extraordinary
creatures.

They teach us
about topographical features,
and the causes of the First World War.

They teach us
about working safely with Bunsen Burners
and what a protractor is for.

They teach us
about apostrophe’s
and where not to put them.

They teach us
when to open our mouths
and when best to shut them.

Teachers
make us dream-chasers,
star-reachers.

Yes, teachers
are extraordinary
creatures.

Except for Mr Jenkins,
‘cos he put me in detention that time
when I done a Chinese burn on Craig Hutchings.

Thoughts Written Upon Turning Over an English Literature A-level Paper on Shakespeare

Question 1: ‘If we wish to know the force of human genius
we should read Shakespeare.’ William Hazlitt


Do you share this view of Shakespeare? Illustrate your answer
with examples from his writing.

For goodness’ sake,
what a way to break the ice.
This is all Greek to me.

It may sound like treason
but I cannot make rhyme nor reason
of his words.

I knew I should have paid more attention,
but at the merest mention
of the bard, I fear the game is up.

Shakespeare sets my teeth on edge.
It is all too hard.
I have been hoisted by my own petard.

Question 2: Answer either a. or b.
a. Using quotations from his work, show how Shakespeare’s language still resonates with us today.
b. In what ways is Shakespeare still relevant in the twenty-first century?

I am still in shock.
For this is the long and short of it;
I shall be the laughing stock

of the class. A sorry sight.
A foregone conclusion.
I am under no delusion.

I should have worn some quotes
on my sleeve, not my heart.
Perhaps I should try the second part –

or will that, too, give me indigestion?
2b or not 2b, that is the question.

Question 3: ‘A fool thinks himself to be wise but a wise man knows himself
to be a fool.’ Consider Touchstone’s observation in As You Like It in relation
to the current predicament in which you find yourself.

I wonder can others hear
in the midsummer madness
of this examination room,

this brave new world’s crack of doom
as my thoughts thunder and race
on their wild goose chase

for Shakespeare’s words.
No sooner do they stop
to linger there,

then they vanish into thin air.
I could more easily catch a cold
than manage to keep hold

of one of his phrases.
I have reached stasis
and I realise now

this naked truth;
my head is as dead
as a doornail.

I know that I am going to fail —
and thereby, I suppose,
hangs this tale.

World Book Day

The year his father made him go
as The World According to Clarkson

became imprinted in his memory,
like the silent skid of tyre marks on

wet tarmac. Brown Jacket. Blue Jeans.
White Shirt: top buttons left undone,

the hairy chest wig that spilled out,
curled upwards to a pale March sun.

And then the air of blokey bonhomie
he felt compelled to assume

the banter about funny foreigners
at the back of the classroom,

his arguing in Geography
against the need to go green,

and, of course, the punching
of the dinner lady in the canteen.