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a webzine of new and unpublished work


Clara Schumann Gets Real

Why does it seem Robert is always whispering?
Is he afraid his Clara will hear him confess
the sins of his youth? I’m no fool. There’s no such thing
as a toilet seat where you can pick up syphilis.
He who lost his left hand from the side-effects
of mercury, gained my right one, and it’s pure gold.
Our courtship ended in the Courts. My father lost
and I lost him, but what I gained was you. We broke even.
I was one day short of twenty-one, and happy.
No harm done, Carmen. I could have been Mrs Liszt.  
When the piano stops playing I wake from a dream.
He’s up to something with his imaginary friends
Florestan and Eusebius. Metta Abegge
still gives him the ‘Variations’. I just drop his babies.
Eight at last count and I clean up after him. 
Damn, but I’m the performer in the family.
I’ll make young Brahms famous. What a nice man.
But Bobby boy, when you die from self pity
and general paralysis of the insane I’ll say
no harm done, Carmen. I could have been Mrs Liszt.  
I’m living proof of the legend of our great love.
But not to forget your music. It was much better than mine.
Though my left hand was better for tinkling the ivories.
And I didn’t trouble mysef with profundities.
I was the second best woman composer of my time.
I had all the advantages except my children,
poor creatures. Not least friends like Johannes.
And moreover I’ve lived to almost twice your age,  
You robbed me of my youth but in kind I got it back.
No harm done, Carmen. I could have been Mrs Liszt.
Adieu Bottleface
When a woman throws her cap at a clochard,
and takes his manhood in hand, he is finished.
The carapace is scraped off, naked flesh exposed.
Under the castoffs his soul suppurates.
The glory of being chosen is you die young.
Rendezvous in the supermarket toilet
have the chain pulled on them by security.
And soon enough he’s back sleeping rough, without
the strength for dogfights, or moving on. He’s done.
The glory of being chosen is you die young.
The woman now flings herself on widowers,
and his pride is a scrap heap on the pavement.
When in high noon you trip over him, the chain
round his neck catches the sun. And that is it. 
The glory of being chosen is you die young.
On the Scent
Hot house flowers don’t smell.
But the artificial
velvet kind do well
with drops of deoderant.
Home gardeners complain
the nursery grown plant
smells only after rain.
Still men stink when they’re rich.
Or if they live in a ditch.
Smell is a leveller:
you go to hell, or
mask it with musk-proof
perfumes. Or stand aloof
hoping the wind won’t change
and you’re out of fart range.
Or there isn't a sewerage hiccup
and a septic stench gutters up
under the town, and roughly tells
what’s peak toilet use, renewals
of the waste products that course
through the body. Its source. 
Lucky Child
It must be terrible
to be rich and ugly
and marry a beauty,
and the issue is frank-
ly mediocre, even plain,
a child that won’t become
out-of-this-world drop-dead.
She’s the hidden treasure
that shows the affluent
are quite ordinary,
the beautiful have brains,
and nature can’t be bribed
to produce a spoilt brat,
who’s bound to be trouble.
Norma Jeans
Slight curve
Mary Pickford:
Demi curve
Doris Day:
Bold curve
Ava Gardner:
The full circle
Sophia Loren.
The Ballad of the Native Woman
Too old for discos,
single bars, and who knows,
I swallowed my pride,
and ordered up
a mail-order bride
from Outer Sidcup.
She came by return
in a trunk on wheels,
labelled fragile,
and stepped out in high heels
with a silly smile,
saying, ‘I’m Sharon’.
My children all mock me.
‘Send her back. She’s not new.’
But I won’t. She's a Cockney,
and does rhyming slang too.
My old wife though is a fan.
And Share calls her Nan.
So much for life savings.
She cost me the earth
in cosmetics to change her
into a typical black girl.
Blond, underarm shavings,
gone to Afro and grass skirt.
But it’s worth every diamond
to see her James Brown
with the best of my mamas,
a pickaninny at the hip,
shaking the broad ass,
and she’s got the lip.
The lesson I learn
is not the inane
‘Women are all the same’.
It’s men. Our shelf-lives
are shorter, and the wives
take their turn like the worm. 
The Cry of the Crumb
The cry of the crumb under the table:
‘Sweep me up.
No need for spectacles.
Just a broad brush and pan will do.
I’m tired of being trampled on. 
If you like you can throw me to the birds.’