Mournful Numbers
 (On reading an anthology)
Dead poets’ digits total eight;
    Alive, aged ninety to eleven,
Four plus a gap’s the going rate –
    Tom Turnip (1957 -     )

As though, one day, the reader, fame,
    Or memoirs, making it loom bigger,
Can add, confronted by the name,
    The fatal to the natal figure.

 Tom Turnip gets, at first, a thrill –
    Three pages! Margins! Best of jackets! –
But then a sudden spinal chill –
    How long to double-dated brackets?

Soon, at the library, worse befalls,
    That feels half ludicrous, half eerie,
As in the space some browser scrawls
     A helpful 1990 ?
Jerome Betts

If you have any comments on this poem, Jerome Betts  would be pleased to hear them.