Poetry incidents, John PatfieldThe jacket has a mahogany rich backing colour, like a wood grain. There is a big square window in the middle, gold round the edges and with gold filigree patterning inside. Inside this square is another, smaller, that holds the title and author's name in black on a gold background. The title is in small black caps. Below this in bold lower case, centred: Anthology of poems / by / John Patfield

Self-publication. Price: donation to The Dementia Services Devt Trust

Reasons for Rhyming

Take a common sentiment and put it into rhyme (or near-rhyme) — and suddenly it gathers resonance (Apple pie without cheese / Is like a kiss without a squeeze).

And some people enjoy making rhyming poems. John Patfield is one of them, and he has a good ear for the task. So he can say something that’s not that unusual and still make it count.

In ‘Relax’, for example, he meditates on age:

No more rushing to beat the clock
Plenty time for a country walk.
No more running to catch the bus
The future now belongs to us.

You can imagine him reading this aloud to an audience of friends, each of them nodding assent.

But John Patfield can vary his rhythm too with a lovely cheeky effect, as he does in the delicious last line of this same poem:

A kiss from lovely rosy lips
And vinegar on your fish and chips.

My top favourite in this collection, ‘The Parson’s Son’, starts with a jaunty and predictable rhyming pattern (‘Johnny boy was a parson’s son / Like all little boys was full of fun’). There is a story to tell, and it’s one most readers can relate to.

Little Johnny finds a dead bird and decides to have a funeral with his friends (‘They built a wee coffin, dug a hole for the grave’). Then the boy reads out a suitable prayer, just like his father did in church. The prayer starts in rhyme but then gradually floats out into a glorious piece of speechifying. The variation on spelling adds delight and character. But it’s the tripping rhythm of the last line that really adds the punch to the punchline:

So let us now depart in peace
You’ve had your life and now you’re deceased
So let us all here say altogether
Glory be unto the Faaather and unto the Sonnn
And into the hole he goooes.

Helena Nelson 

Copies available from Mr J. Patfield, 178 The Loaning, Motherwell ML1 3LL