Here’s today’s poem

(this is not finished yet)

I Don’t Know, I’ve Never Kippled

(to my son)

It’s good to be a man, my son, but better

to realise what it is that you are not

I hope you’ll realise, having read this letter

that genius engenders tons of rot:

Ars longa, vita brevis? Don’t be daft –

It doesn’t hold a candle as a rule;

No genius without penis? How we laughed!

These guys know nothing – send them back to school!

When you can make a shopping list with one hand

and type your magnum opus with the other

Nor think youself embarrassingly unmanned

to imitate the actions of a mother

If you can change a diarrhoeic nappy

and turn to put that nappy in the bin

and turn again to find your baby crappy

and clean it up, and never lose your grin:

If toddler no: 1 is screaming murder

as you get toddler no: 2 to sleep

If you’re not thinking that your life is purdah

If thoughts of drinking beer don’t make you weep:

If you sit down a sec, put on some Dylan

and in that second, lo! the baby wakes

and you can smile and still not prove a villain

You’ll have an inkling of what it takes:

If poems wake you up at 3 am

and, scrabbling blearily for pen and pad

you poke the baby’s eyes instead of them

and still the thought of children makes you glad:

If you can be content to be a man

And say of us, “ma semblable, ma soeur

you’ll come to understand your nature’s span

How small the difference between him and her:

Not to define yourself is very freeing

– and, what is more, you’ll be a human being.

This is of course a parody of the well-known poem, “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

There are aspects of Kipling I deplore, and most of them seem to be exhibited in this poem, hence the parody. When writing the poem I became aware of wanting to present my son with a positive way of being a man, and not being quite sure how to do this. Any thoughts?

PS The title is an answer to the question, “do you like Kipling?”

PPS Not 100% sure about the word “diarrhoeic”, though if it exists, I’m sure at least I’ve spelt it correctly.