Home > Imitation > Hors d’Afrique (after Larkin’s Vers de Societé)

Hors d’Afrique (after Larkin’s Vers de Societé)

May 9, 2012

by Irene Brown

“It could’ve been a trip to reach the stars
aboard Virgin Galactic flights.” My arse.
The fare’s at least a coupla hundred K!
Be that as it may.
Their pensions weren’t stretching to the moon–
‘cept in a fluked, off-route hot air balloon.

So, decades graded, they choose the Big Game plan.
A group safari: three whole weeks with strangers.
Star lit skies and camp fire meals with rangers;
walk with Grevy’s zebra, wildebeest
(I’d rather be deceased)
an overnight with some poor tribesman

who has to deal with khakied matching hats
(all waterproofed in case of a monsoon)
Howard and Hildas with keen binoculars
finding rhino, flamingos (but no cougars!)
the odd baboon
their purring tabbies swapped for snarling cats.

Beneath acacias Masai guard the camp
as distant lions roar; hyenas laugh,
but sparring in a rare Rothschild giraffe
is nothing to the foreign sounds that seep
under the flap:
Kalahari Karaoke’d make you weep.

Never been inclined to hunt in packs
preferring, like the heart, to hunt alone
and bunk up in my own sweet bivouac.
Savannah star jumps? Yuck! And new best friends?
Too hard to blend.
The whole thing makes me groan.

Hell is other people (I’m with Sartre)
I think I’ll stage a daring coup de théâtre.
Close by I hear a thousand buffalo thundering
and I’m wondering…
How to get out of Africa; just breakaway?
Oh fuck! gie me the mike– ‘A Wimoweh…’

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Irene Brown started writing late in life and has been published in a variety of media and has successfully performed her work on the Edinburgh Fringe several times. A pamphlet, Glass Slippers, was published in 2008 by Calder Wood Press (CWP) and a joint pamphlet with Anna Dickie entitled Imprint was published by Jaggnath Press in 2011. She currently writes for Edinburgh Guide.

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  1. May 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Great to see this up in print Irene. The final stanza still makes me laugh out loud. You did such a great job with the rhyme scheme too. Anna

  2. May 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    This is hilarious!

  3. Mar
    May 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Our ridiculous human life. Very funny. Larkin would be (begrudgingly) pleased.

  4. May 9, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Ha! A Wimoweh!! Perfect.

  5. Garry Stanton
    May 10, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Hey TR, love this, particularly the Sartre- coup de theatre rhyme…pretty funny! x

  6. karengmpoetry
    May 14, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Loving this a lot.

  7. Anonymous
    May 18, 2012 at 6:38 am


    Well done, this is so good, funny but extremely truthful. I really liked this one.


  8. Karen Morgan
    May 21, 2012 at 5:19 am

    Absolutely brilliant Irene – the best poet in Edina just surpassed even herself – lots more of these and quickly too please!


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