Two Poems by Penelope Shuttle

whew what a scorcher, or burn baby burn

we dig ready-baked potatoes 

out of our allotments 

a new well fetches over 

a million quid at Sotheby’s

the water is used 

to christen a royal baby

we the poor can only applaud 

and croak our praises 

a cloud is spotted over Europe

but scuttles off in a huff

the zoo rhinos 

are slathered with moisturizer 

so their skins don’t crack raw

no-one wants angry rhinos

the full moon sheds a dry tear

the sun powers on in King Kong mode

cricket pitches snap like Pringles

everyone goes on holiday in their mind to polar regions

quick before the last bit melts

but a gardener I know 

goes on cloud-pruning her green bay tree 

someone must, says she

medicine for invalid earth

wait what       

a dozen thorns

to be swallowed on waking?

that’s no remedy 

the patient knows better

why should she comply?

twelve scalpels 

washed down 

with a sip of water at lunchtime?

no way    no way

soon the patient’s 

too poorly to stand

feverish and hollow-eyed

razor blades on toast at bedtime?

but the patient gasps 

I’m feeling a bit better

the doctor 

offers fiercer medicine

don’t you want to be cured?

sickly princess earth 

won’t surrender

over my dead body says she

Penelope Shuttle lives in Cornwall. Her thirteenth collection, Lyonesse, appeared from Bloodaxe in June 2021, and was Observer Poetry Book of the Month for July 21. Covid/Corvid, a pamphlet written in collaboration with Alyson Hallett, appeared from Broken Sleep Books, September 2021. Father Lear, a pamphlet, was published by Poetry Salzburg in June 2020.