Sonnet of the Week: Me and My Mate

You’ve probably not met the world of schoolgirls’ toilets in a sonnet before, but maybe something sounds familiar. I wrote this a dozen years ago for a school anthology, which wanted parodies of famous poems. It’s based on Shakespeare’s sonnet 138: “When my love swears that she is made of truth…”

Paul Francis.






Sonnet of the Week: Spellbound

I’m delighted to be poet in residence for this year’s Wenlock Poetry Festival, and also to be following Jean Atkin, who’s a good friend as well as an excellent poet. This was written for her during her typically energetic spell as poet in residence at Acton Scott. You can hear us both read at 7.30 pm this Saturday, at Wenlock Pottery.

Paul Francis.






Sonnet of the Week: Wanker

I wrote this in 2008. It never won any prizes, but it’s one my favourites among my own sonnets. It works on two levels, tracing abusive relationships – a man bullying a woman, and a banker talking to a taxpayer. Some people think sonnets are soft and flowery, but they can also be topical and tough.

Paul Francis.






Sonnet of the Week: Resolution

Resolution: just the word takes me back to Whitby, a residential week with school students, and the rich historical material there was to work on. The Scoresbys, father and son, were legendary whalers, unjustly overshadowed by the fame of Captain Cook. As for the New Year variety, ‘nuff said.

Paul Francis.

That was the ship that Scoresby’s father sailed and he took on. He had the old man’s eyes and will. Add science, and you get the man to find the whaler’s grail, the Arctic Pole. Across the ice he aimed his mind’s harpoon into the centre of an Arctic waste. Missed, by a whisker. Just five hundred miles. And now, there’s me. New Year. A humbler role but I’ll make changes, mean to make them soon. I’d guess the ghost of William Scoresby smiles to see the pale ambition of my plan: less swearing, keep a diary, exercise. Such feeble good intentions, briefly placed on paper, then ignored. I too have failed.




Sonnet of the Week: Outrage

This comes from my recent booklet Us and Them: the war in error. I argue that the worse the atrocity, the clearer our thinking has to be. One of Lee Rigby’s killers had been tortured, and then repeatedly pressured by MI5. That doesn’t excuse the killing, but it’s something we need to know.

Paul Francis.

This is what terrorism means. It’s meant to fill you with uncomprehending fears. A young man in the street, hit by a car and then beheaded, filmed by passers-by.  The clip goes viral. Ministers are sent round all the studios. They are insane these monsters. Evil. If we had the rope... Next best is lock them up and don’t ask why.  We need informers, vulnerable men with contacts. No, they won’t be volunteers. We probe their weakness, sometimes probe too far. This guy, a torture victim, did complain but we still probed. He’d had enough. And then? That’s stuff we’ll cover up. You couldn’t cope.