Augustus Young       light verse, poetry and prose
a webzine of new and unpublished work


The Cigar Smoker 

1. Reassuringly, my doctor said,
‘Smoke your cigars. You could do worse.
Something else will get you first’.
But as he pulled back my eyelid
I saw from his look that I was dead.
A growth that couldn’t be got rid.
2. No point losing sleep. I reason
sooner or later we’ll all be gone.
Free-range chicken and blackberries in season
won’t put off the evil day. Just carry on.
3. Good practice, or schnapps, can contrive
some peace of mind. The fact is what’s hid
behind the eyes has a life of its own.
You might as well get married!
4. My uncle, for example, a sharp dresser,
though burdened with the self-same tumour,
had rosy cheeks, that nevertheless were
graveyard flowers. He hadn’t a healthy hair.
5. The bad news is kept in the family.
A home truth. A matter of fact,
like knowing pineapples from rosemary,
It might as well be a cataract.     
6. My grandfather faced the curse in good faith.
Took every precaution, and led
a miserable life. At forty-eight
he had enough of it, and fell dead.
7. Our breed doesn’t envy others or quibble
with fate. Everyone has a cross to bear.
Now my waterworks have terminal dribble,
I haven’t had a drink for a year.  

A Contrary Life 

He was never one or the other.
A rugbyman who played the violin.
A right bastard who loved his mother.
The path of salvation is the way of sin.
Always faithful to his vices.
An outsider who has stayed within
the bounds of the received niceties.
The path of salvation is the way of sin.
Having accepted any price is
a good basis for a decision,
his mind is constantly in crisis.
The path of salvation is the way of sin.
But he won’t quarrel with his death throes,
the body’s dance to shake off its skin.
What happens then the devil only knows.
The path of salvation is the way of sin.

Sprinkling the Garden 

Sprinkle the garden.
Enliven the green.
Water the shrubs,
even though they look dead.
And don’t forget the weeds
growing between the flowers.
They too are thirsty.
The water is not just for lawns,
and scorched earth.
You must refresh the bare soil.  

The Final Demand 

Life is a mistake you’re paying for.
It comes cheap but goes for a high price.
Faced by the bill you cry with horror.
Read the small print and resistence dies.
Mustn’t live as though there’s no tomorrow.
The last demand always comes in red.
Your payback is running out of  time.
It won’t be all the same when you’re dead.
Resign yourself. Sign the bottom line.
Who wants to leave their family in debt?
Pay without a murmur. To cheat death
lacks dignity. Life’s errors rate
human respect, like a left hander
who plays Bach backwards. Ameliorate
them with Elvis’s Return to Sender.   

Night Sky, Skovsbostrand, 1934 

The friends are silent as the stars.
The music of the spheres is all
in the mind. Between it and the hand
the heart beats until it stops.
May it happen when enough’s said.
Twenty years should suffice, said Brecht.
Walter could only shake his head.
How many years will we be dead?  

Elbow Room in the Underground 

My elbow endeavours to rest
on the elbow of a neighbour.
It doesn’t matter who it is.
We are equally a pest
to young and old of either sex.
The elbow of a drunk will do.
My elbow is pinned together
by metal pins, and can divine
sudden changes in the weather.
It is in pain most of the time,
but what’s to come is jointly felt
with a shock in the funny bone.
When I am travelling alone,
and an elbow lends its warmth
to comfort mine, it can’t have known
that we enjoy a little death.
Still rarely is the cradled crutch
withdrawn. It is the human touch.  

Meiner Mutter 

When she was dead they laid her in the clay.
The flowers grow over her and the butterflies flutter.
She was so light the earth didn’t give way.
How much pain does it take to be as slight as her?