Poetry Wednesday: Pam Ayres

My first introduction to Pam Ayres was a small book tucked away in one of the many bookcases in my parent’s house.  It was called Some More of Me Poetry, and I never would have paid attention to it if it hadn’t landed on the floor with six other books as I tried to pry something else (possibly an Erma Bombeck) off the overstuffed bookshelf.

It’s mine now.*

I was in high school at the time, and had almost worn out Dad’s Tom Lehrer albums.**   I was fascinated with funny poetry at the time—I loved to angst over the sad stuff as much as the next teenager, but I craved clever humor, possibly as a form of self-medication.  Still do, I think.

Pam Ayres is just what the doctor ordered.  She writes about everyday things, like shopping lists and shawls and dentist visits, and though some of her work is serious and even melancholy,  most of it is wryly humorous.

Unlike Mr. Leher, whose every line bursts with cynicism and wit, Ms. Ayres carefully plants her zingers among the stanzas, waiting to be triggered at precisely the right time.  She is an absolute delight to read—and to hear—and never fails to brighten my day.

I’m very fond of her defense of hedgehogs , but I thought I’d go with two poems that I think should be read together:

Yes, I’ll Marry You, My Dear
(Pam Ayres, ©1997***)

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear, and here’s the reason why;
So I can push you out of bed When the baby starts to cry,
And if we hear a knocking and it’s creepy and it’s late,
I hand you the torch you see, and you investigate.

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,you may not apprehend it,
But when the tumble-drier goes it’s you that has to mend it,
You have to face the neighbour should our labrador attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me it’s you that has to whack him.

Yes, I’ll marry you,my dear, you’re virile and you’re lean,
My house is like a pigsty, you can help to keep it clean.
That sexy little dinner which you served by candlelight,
As I do chipolatas, you can cook it every night!

It’s you who has to work the drill and put up curtain track,
And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flak.
I do see great advantages, but none of them for you,
And so before you see the light, I do, I do, I do!

You can hear Ms. Ayres read this here.

Ms. Ayres’ narrative (and narrating, I suppose) voice is so strong, it’s easy for me to see this next poem coming from the same woman, years later, during which the husband has exacted his revenge, though possibly not on purpose:

Doesn’t she have a wonderful smile?


* Because I took it.  And I’d do it again.  Statute of limitations has run out anyway.  I hope.

**Yes, vinyl, and no,  not on a Victrola.

***From With These Hands (Ayres, 1998)


10 thoughts on “Poetry Wednesday: Pam Ayres

  1. Ooooh, what a smart woman! I wish I had had that kind of understanding before entering the absurd world of matrimony.

  2. That poem is delightful.
    And I am so with you on humor as a form of self-medication. A dear friend of mine that I’ve known for 20 plus years read my blog recently and it was such a treat to have someone read it from the perspective of knowing me in real life. She read the post about my aunt, and then about the clay miniatures and the cake and said she laughed throughout. Whereas many people saw the sadness, my friend wrote me that she laughed all the way through. More times than not, I’m laughing as well because isn’t that what this whole thing is about?
    Now, if I could just channel the humor of my neuroses to the page, so that people who haven’t met me get it too…
    That’s what I love about you. You are so damn funny.

    • More times than not, I’m laughing as well because isn’t that what this whole thing is about?

      I hope so, or I’ve gone wrong somewhere. “Humor of my Neuroses” would be a marvelous title for a memoir—or a collection of Lyrical Meanderings(ahem).

      (and thank you 🙂 —if I could get the hand of being appropriately funny, I’d be all set . . .though for what, I’m not sure)

      • Ms. W.,
        Funny is always inappropriate. That’s why it’s funny.
        I’m picturing an ols strip of Calvin and Hobbes when Calvin goes to get his class picture taken. Or anything David Sedaris. Or Stephen Colbert.
        Just funny.

  3. She has a great one about the Wonderbra too. Here’s a bit:

    “I took it from the packaging
    And when I tried it on,
    The Wonderbra restored to me
    All I believed had gone”

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