To the war-torn poets whose hearts were hooped with steel

Published at Lotus-eater 1

I am on Centre Court
for finals day,
up at the net, all in white,
reading a sheaf of poems
very loud
to the no small amusement
of the Wimbledon crowd.
My opponent,
a fellow of infinite chest
and wily play,
scampers after rhymes
around the baseline,
dirtying his shorts and socks
when attempting to return
the many lobs, feints, smashes
I send his way,
one eye on the prize money,
the other roaming at will
to the royal box.
As we grunt a fierce duel
to the audible gasps
of adulant spectators – he rasps a Haiku clean through
my Ben 10 document holder;
I serve an epic couplet
which finds him wanting
down the lines –
the scoreboard lights up
with Spenserian sonnets and the
mighty Villanelle, you know,
‘do not go gently into that good night’; the
crowd goes wild.
He screams defeat as I
slide a trochee cross-court,
one hand on the trophy
the other on a pencil
that after three hours
needs sharpening
for the press conference.
I gather my spare notepads
from under the umpire’s chair
and as we depart to rapture
and acclaim,
bowing deeply
to our rulers I
hand my vanquished colleague an instant ditty on a post-it note,
‘fair is foul and foul is fair, fella,
poet tennis is a funny old game’.