Poem: Mr and Mrs Portsmouth (after Mr and Mrs Scotland are Dead by Kathleen Jamie)

By Margaret Jennings


Mr and Mrs Portsmouth

are kirtled by the sea

proud of their ironclad

links to Nelson and Victory,

Looking down on their sister,


Dismissive of the Scummers.


Mr and Mrs Portsmouth

wear boulevards of trees

on posh Southsea streets,

speak of the laughing clown

long gone on the pier;

of Tommy and when

that same pier burned down.


The a in bath and laugh

they elongate

but eat school dinners

paid for by the state,


yes, Mr and Mrs Portsmouth

hold their heads up high

as they skirt the dirt

and swim in pungent seas,

while pebbles dotted with sea cabbage

serve as sand.


Mr and Mrs Portsmouth don’t squinny

never see their town as a right skank,

there’s no point getting lairy,


they can see the bobbing yachts,

and the forts of Lord Palmerston,

the point where sea meets horizon

by the Isle of Wight.


All is well

with Mr and Mrs Portsmouth.


Photography by Moshe Tasky.