Martin Parker: A to Zzzz


My usual way of getting off to sleep
is counting poets through a gate, not sheep.
I quote some lines from each one as he goes
and very soon my eyelids start to close.

On any normal night I really hope
to fall asleep before I reach Ms. Cope,
thus sparing me the story of her corkscrew
which really is too sad to fall asleep to.

One night, skunk-drunk from some friend’s birthday bash,
I slurred my way from A to Ogden Nash;
and once, when dodgy shellfish made me poorly,
I threw up right from Auden to Macaulay.

My very worst was on our wedding night
when, you a nervous bride and me too tight
and bed half full of cake crumbs and confetti,
I tossed and turned until I reached Rossetti.

But since you packed and left I’ve missed your snore
whose grace-notes backed the verse.  Now I’m not sure
that sleep will quench my lonely lover’s fire
before I’ve gone right through to Zephaniah.