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)