Among the hide-and-canvas lace-ups made
For some poor elephant’s giant tender feet
And leathery minutiae of trade
In boots, dissected or complete,
Mint Army-issue, every shade of bruise,
With Tudor scraps from trenches workmen dig,
You find a case containing John Clare’s shoes,
Asylum-worn, and very big.
Jerome Betts writes: ”In Northampton Museum, published in Angle and The Hypertexts, is for me one of those pieces in which some lines just seem to arrive fully formed. In 1969-70 I lived for eighteen months in Northampton and sometimes visited its Shoe Museum whose displays reflected the traditional local industry. The town also still had the former Northampton County Asylum (now a private psychiatric hospital) where John Clare spent his last years. Somehow, the military footwear, the curious elephant boots and Clare’s shoes all seemed to come together. Oddly enough, nearly two years ago I received a Lighten Up Online contribution about elephants from someone in the USA who, it turned out, knew another contributor who knew the American leader of the expedition in 1950, testing some theory about Hannibal’s’ crossing of the Alps, for which the elephant boots had been made.”
Jerome Betts was born and brought up on the Welsh border, but now lives in South Devon, where he edits the quarterly Lighten Up Online. In addition to articles and verse in consumer and specialist magazines his work has appeared in Pennine Platform, Staple and The Guardian, as well as anthologies like The Iron Book of New Humorous Verse, Limerick Nation, Love Affairs At The Villa Nelle, Extreme Sonnets, Extreme Formal Poems and The Potcake Chapbooks 1 & 2, and online at Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, The Asses of Parnassus, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Better Than Starbucks, The Hypertexts, Light, The New Verse News, Parody, The Rotary Dial, Snakeskin, and other sites.