You were asked for anything you liked as long as it began, " I wandered lonely as . . ."
A healthy entry, but only two eagle-eyed competitors realised that this meant the
fifth word didn’t have to be the indefinite article.
Among the lonely wanderers were a pig, an ass and a Labrador, not to mention one of
Russell Brand’s brain cells. However, a shroud and a Shavian stranded fish or ghoti,
(to rhyme with dhoti pronounced dish) seemed rather handicapped as runners in the
wandering stakes within the meaning of the Act.
With commiserations to Martin John, Antonia Kelly, and Pat D’Amico on near misses,
below is the selection, in no particular order, of the offerings which managed to
pierce the adjudicator’s armoured hide.
I wandered lonely as a word
that's slipped out from the common round
to hide disguised, remote, absurd
in vacant space and empty sound.
My mind calls out; no word replies.
Embarrassed, I apologise.
Yet now, at 3 a.m. it's here
unbidden, clear, the life-long friend
whose well-loved presence, always near,
I'd thought would stay until my end.
I wonder, should I laugh or curse,
or fear amnesia will grow worse?
I wandered lonely as the wind
Amidst the high street's yuletide glee;
To festive folk that warmly grinned
I gave no reciprocity.
The season put me in a mood
That cloaked me all in solitude.
Unmoved by lights and other charms,
I trudged – and all the gifts I'd bought,
Though light, were burdens to my arms
And to the one despairing thought
That fouled my heart like blackest tar:
"Where did I park my bloody car?"
I wandered lonely as a nudist,
my features wiped quite free of smiles
by Fate's cruel wit, the very crudest,
a nasty hernia and piles.
Bold naturism starts to pall,
alone and palely loitering
with rear aflame and stomach wall
while searching for that special she
who’ll take and love me as she’ll find me,
and not throw up at what she’ll see
both out in front and then behind me.
I wandered lonely as the one
who doesn’t have a mobile phone.
I scrounge some change, and then, what fun,
a booth in which I am alone.
I close the doors and speak my piece,
and know it will be wholly mine.
It’s with relief I find release;
street-talking seems quite asinine.
There is just one regretful part,
the booths are headed for extinction.
They vanish from the nation’s heart,
cacophony’s its new distinction.
Susan de Sola
I wandered lonely as a probe
on a well-planned odyssey,
past Jupiter's impressive globe
to foist a load of chemistry
upon my distant destination -
a boulder weak in gravitation.
With batteries flat in frozen shade
it's boring on this comet.
What message lingers unrelayed?
What thought can't I beam from it?
Simply, in this great black yonder,
apsis makes the heart grow fonder.
I wandered lonely as a skunk.
That skulks along a muddy path.
It's not that I was very drunk,
But voices said 'You need a bath.'
Acquaintances became aloof -
OK, I'd had some pints of beer:
The spillages perhaps were proof
That I was niffy to be near.
Then finally I had a shower:
It came as Nature's own toilette,
But though the rain has cleansing power
My clothes and I smelt worse when wet.
I wandered lonely as a coach
Whose team is heading for the drop
So fans and hacks begin to broach
The question – give this dud the chop?
Then, in the street, still lost and low,
I saw a sign through tear-blurred eyes . . .
Red neon letters’ lurid glow
Spelt out, far off, FLESH-NAKED THIGHS.
Cancan commando? Legs all nude?
A shot of visual eau-de-vie?
No! Close up, hungry people queued
To purchase FRESH-BAKED PIES. Tant pis!
I wandered lonely as Nick Clegg
scouring streets for Lib Dem votes
but finding there were none to beg
and he had burned his party's boats,
and wishing he could re-position
his party back, pre-Coalition.
And now, when in my glass I stare
to wonder how these wrinkles came
I wish I'd taken much more care.
With hindsight, I'd not look the same.
But time, alas, will not turn back
nor place us on a better track.