Sunday, 5 May 2013


The old man sits, feet stroking the grass,
Watching the young men peacocking past
With dangly bits, and waistband slung low
Like sheep; no pen for these ovine ones though.

A young man, a-swagger, glances across
To the wrinkled old mutton athwart the moss.
From a bag draws his phone, the latest design,
Clicks a button, takes a picture, and posts it online.

The very next day, and the post is a meme
With a caption beneath saying something obscene,
And the peacocks all say “Lol, look at his hair”
With the belief that their wit matches that of Voltaire.

But the old man just laughs, and goes out again
To him, it’s a folly, and causes no pain.
Like a cow among calves, he watches, benign
If it’s made him less jolly, he shows not a sign.

Then he spies the peacock, strutting this way,
Stands up, walks across, bids him “Good day!”
He’s caused a shock; the peacock is riled
But the mossy old man has done naught but smiled.

He is kindly, he smiles, he is calm, he is cool;
He doesn’t seem sad to be painted a fool.
Against these charming guiles, the young man cannot speak.
He thinks him mad, this old man so meek.

The time’s nearly four, day soon will be night
And church-grounds are easier to walk round in the light,
So, relaxed as before, the old man takes his leave,
To do his rounds round the graves, and silently grieve.

There lies ‘neath the sod no bosom old friends,
Nor lover long lost – no one grave he tends.
It’s at the old and the odd this smiling man stands;
Those heavily mossed, untouched by hands.

There’s no suggestion why he should pass through
To remember the forgotten that he never knew.
So here’s my question, which I ask with a smile,
Peacock or mutton: who really has style?

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