This week’s EIF Poetry Challenge was to write a ballad, on any subject: a lyrical poem which tells a story. I was impressed, moved and amused by turns by the responses received, which were all of a high standard. As usual with this challenge, I will now hand over to the winner of the previous challenge and this week’s judge, Valdis Stakle, for the verdict.
First Place: ‘The Battle of Adolf and Winnie’ by Hobbo
“Winnie,” said young Churchill’s mother
As they sauntered along by ‘canal
“You don’t seem right settled at ‘arrow
I think what you need’s a pen pal.”
“There’s a boy from a nice Austrian fam’ly
As I’m told that is looking for fame
You’re sure to have plenty in common
Adolf ‘itler’s the little lad’s name.”
“I don’t want a pen pal,” sulked Winston
His mouth turning down in a pout
“Besides, I don’t speak any German
And he won’t know no English or nowt.”
“It will better your school education”
Insisted mother, a woman called Jen
“Your CV will look well impressive
When you become a great leader of men.”
So Winston began to write Adolf
Of the ‘I am well, hope you’re well’ kind
To which Adolf responded politely
“Yes, I’m tickety-boo you will find.”
At first it went all nicey-nicey
They’d write once a month, thereabouts
But as’itler grew up he grew dafter
And Churchill began voicing doubts.
Things worsened between them right sharpish
When Winston became the P.M.
His letters to Adolf censorious
Using words that were quick to condemn.
“You can’t blame the Jews for your problems
How dare you say, all is their fault?
And as for invading poor Poland
Your armies should grind to a halt.”
The Fuhrer were quick to respond though
Not scared to call ‘shovel a spade
So Winnie gave him ‘V is for vict’ry’
To show ‘Germans as we weren’t afraid.
The battle swung one way then t’other
As things tend to do in a war
With ‘absence of good refereeing
It was hard keeping track of the score.
Dunkirk, Winston claimed was a vict’ry
And ‘Battle of Britain an’ all
But Adolf ‘ad u-boats and Nazis
So really, it was more like two-all.
Churchill demanded surrender
Sick to his teeth of the wars
“If you don’t then I’ll bring in the allies
And my mates are bigger than yours.”
Then up stepped the Yanks with their money
Glenn Miller in ‘mood wi’ his swing
Big guns, bigger wallets, biggest voices
Nylon stockings ‘as made the girls sing.
Their boss were called Eisen ‘Ower
Or Ike to his pals, such as Winnie
He insisted on being in charge like
Leaving Winston in ‘iger-nominy.‘
Thousands of brave men in ships
Were sent off to Normandy, France
Many lost their lives in the fighting
But the allies left nothing to chance.
They sent over food, tanks and soldiers
Who the French ladies met with a cheer
When ‘itler saw ‘size of this army
He knew he had plenty to fear.
Adolf scurried away from the fighting
And whilst Germany was turned upside down
This coward, who Winston stood up to
Wed his lover and mistress ‘Frau Braun.‘
‘Allies found Adolf’s bunker in Berlin
The place were a bit of a mess
Churchill’s letters were lying on ‘doormat
Stamped, “No longer at this address.”
So, if someone suggests you a pen pal
As they’re bound to do sooner or later
Be sure to check out their credentials
Don’t get stuck with a nasty dictator.
Judge’s comments: ‘I loved the satirical tone of this ballad and the novel use of language together with its quirky view of history and a timely warning at the end.’
I also really enjoyed this satirical, potted history of the Second World War couched in the Yorkshire dialect. If you are unfamiliar, you can find out more in this video.
Congratulations, Hobbo – thar’s dun reet well, Sir! I would like to offer you the chance to judge next week’s challenge, should you wish to. Read more of Hobbo’s Poems at hobbospoems.com.
Second Place: ‘Round the Clock in iPhone’s Grip of Force’ by Don Matthews
At 12 o’clock the I-phone came
A saviour and messiah
The world through now the ether talked
Instead of the copper wire
It spread itself around the world
Apple smiled and waited
In just twelve quick hours that went along
The world was saturated
“I want it, I want it” swept round the world
The I-phone was prize in the race
While Apple got richer the world it got poorer
They forgot how to talk face to face
As the world became glued to their I-phones
The movement it became so profound
That the world it forget to watch what was happening
Became blind to what went on all around
The pollies left at 1 o’clock
With I-phones as a perk
They left the world to run itself
It did, just like clockwork
At 2 o’clock the union said,
It’s time to make a whack,
They got together one and all
And made the clocks go back
And so they did. Grandfather. Fob. Town Hall et al.
What of those not in the union you may ask?…..
At 3 o’clock the prostitutes
We’re going off the lay
The world’s all I-phoned out on us
There’s no-one to play in the hay
At 4 o’clock the uprights said
(Like traffic lights e.g.)
We’d like to try and stand on heads
While no-one else can see
At 5 o’clock the rain it thought
I wonder what it’s like
To fall up to the sky instead
Of coming down as usual?…..
So it did. And it felt good thought the rain….
When horizontals saw the uprights
At their 4 o’clock display
They said now why can’t we join in
And point the other way?
At seven o’clock the cars did want
To stand on their two back wheels
If humans can stand up on two legs
We want to know how it feels
At 8 o’clock the clocks did stop
To rest their hands and springs
‘Cause working backwards for a clock’s
A pretty tiring thing
At 9 o’clock all bikes and trikes
Took off their sprockety chains
And free-wheeled all around the land
Without their chainy pains
At 10 o’clock giant flames rose up
The world stayed Iphone wooed
While houses burned and burned and burned
The world stayed Iphone glued
The sun it did a burn-out
(Temporarily of course)
To make the stupid world wake up
To Iphone’s grip of force
Electric turbine’s effort
Electric turbines joined with sun’s
Desire to get refrain
From all the worldly Iphone users
Charging up again
At 11 o’clock around the world
Electric turbines did
Stop and try a non-spin spot
No power on the grid
The Iphone batteries soon ran out
Their users weeped and wailed
What ever are we going to do?
Everything has failed
The sun and turbines they did think
The world’s now OK, let’s see
The sun came out, the turbines spun
They thought things would be rosy
Because the world got Iphone glued
They all knew how to walk, yes
But when they emerged from their Iphone haze
They’d forgotten how to talk
Judge’s comments: ‘I liked the structure with movement in time and the clever use of language. Finally I think there is an uncomfortable truth which emerges in this tale. We still need to talk!’
I for one never understood the iPhone frenzy: ok, so I have an iPhone (not the latest one) but I have better things to do at 5 a.m. than queue up to buy one. Bringing you this post, for example!
Congratulations, Don! Don from Down Under is a regular contributor to EIF and you can visit his site, The Flippant, Comic, and Serious for more of his unique brand of whacky humour with a serious twist.
Third Place: ‘We All Do Have A Tale’ by Gunta Binks
We all do have a tale to tell
And this one I do know so well
It happened in the war.
The young girl took her leave of home
By day and night she far did roam
And saw her love no more.
She came across a peaceful land
Put down her pack from out her hand
And sat upon the floor
She turned her eyes from whence she came
Her legs were sore, her feet were lame
And she could walk no more.
But after rest she carried on
Now she sang a little song
Ten verses of Ligo.
My future lies along this road
Her thoughts and dreams, how they flowed
My life will hold much more.
Judge’s Comments: I chose this because it was heartfelt and moving together with skillful execution. We are invited along on a journey and we want to know more.
I agree that this is an intriguing tale about a strong woman who would not give up in the face of adversity. We may all have the 2020 blues, but many of us could learn a lot from her, I think.
Gunta has a keen interest in literature, art and crafts, and occasionally dabbles in poetry! You can see some delightful images from her native Cumbria and beyond on her Instagram Page. Congratulations, Gunta!
A big thank you for everyone who entered, for rising to the challenge and helping to keep poetry alive. I leave you with some concluding words from Valdis:
‘Thanks to all who entered. I thought every entry had merit and I found it difficult to choose a winner. Thanks to Ingrid for her organisation and inspiration in promoting this challenge. I eagerly await the next.’