A Poetry Sporadical of Repeating Forms

The Rolls-Royce and Rifle Brigade He bitterly resents the Rolls-Royce and rifle brigade who have taken over the country’s shooting land
and pop down at weekends to blast away at overstocked game birds flying up from the beaters in flocks
thick enough to eclipse the sun.
—Local newspaper interview

by Jerome Betts

There are tears in my ink as I sit here and think
      Of the glorious role I once played,
And I hope glasses clink in the toast I now drink—
      To the Rolls-Royce and Rifle Brigade!

Oh, how we would jeer if there dared to appear
     Some Rover-borne cad on parade
And a Purdey, it’s clear, was just not the right gear
     For the Rolls-Royce and Rifle Brigade.

Ah, Phantoms and Sprites, gilded youth’s true delights,
     And my comrades, now silvered and greyed,
We were latter-day knights as we zeroed our sights
     In the Rolls-Royce and Rifle Brigade.

Remember the quips as the birds would eclipse
     The sun, and create that dense shade?
My heartbeat still skips at the cry on our lips—
     Steady, Rolls-Royce and Rifle Brigade!

Lord, the pheasant-attacks, the Lee-Enfields’ loud cracks
     And the sounds those French partridges made,
Until time to relax with the slain heaped in stacks
     By the Rolls-Royce and Rifle Brigade.

I hear corks’ tiny pops, or the cries of winged stops,
     As I lunch at my ease in a glade,
Or imbibe amber drops near some lead-riddled copse
     With the Rolls-Royce and Rifle Brigade.

One poor beater’s request for a bullet-proof vest
     Was, regrettably, lost or mislaid,
But where he’s at rest there’s a stone to attest
     From the Rolls-Royce and Rifle Brigade.

Is Time causing gaps in the ranks of the chaps
     Former monarchs of all they surveyed?
Or were you, perhaps, just a journalist’s lapse,
     Dear old Rolls-Royce and Rifle Brigade?

Jerome Bett lives in Devon, England, and has contributed verse to a wide variety of publications including The Guardian, LightenUp OnLine, Pennine Platform, Per Contra,  and Staple.


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