Curse of Cain and other alphabet poems

by Paul Martin Freeman (June 2022)

Einst dem grau der nacht enttaucht, Paul Klee, 1918


The q: Curse of Cain

The q was punished by a visitation
And torment other letters never knew.
Alone among the alphabetic nation
Behind him always stood a watching u.

No matter where he went the u would follow—
This curse would haunt him everywhere he’d go!
The u was there, a cause of constant sorrow,
That only he, the q, would ever know.


The c and d: A Chat over the Garden Fence

The d peered down upon the c, his neighbour:
“Old chap,” he said, “you’ve lost your vertical.”
“Although the point I wouldn’t wish to labour,”
“My own I’ve found is indispensable.”

The c replied he’d never really liked his:
“It got,” he muttered crossly, “in the way.”
“And so, although it’s really not your business,”
“I tossed it in the rubbish yesterday!”


How the b became the h

The p awoke and found himself the b,
But that was not the end of all this woe.
For no one can escape their destiny,
And fate was poised to strike a further blow.

The order of the letters quickly changed
And into outer darkness b was hurled.
And from the q eternally estranged,
The bottom fell forever from his world.


The a and the o: Disappointing Conversationalists

The a, the others know, is hard of hearing:
Addressing her, she always answers “Eh?”
They try a little more but end up swearing,
Then can’t remember what they had to say.

The o, alas, is hardly an improvement:
No matter what they say, he answers “Oh!”
And as this neither long provides amusement,
They shake their heads and find they have to go!


Table of Contents


Paul Freeman is an art dealer in London. The poems are from a series about letters of the alphabet.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


2 Responses

  1. This whole series in 3 or 4 last issues was exquisite and hugely enjoyable. The new installment is just as nice…

Leave a Reply to Lorenz Denney Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New English Review Press is a priceless cultural institution.
                              — Bruce Bawer


Pre-order on Amazon or Amazon UK or wherever books are sold

Order at Amazon, Amazon UK, or wherever books are sold. 

Order at Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Available at Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

For the literature lover in your life on Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold. 

For children of all ages. Order at AmazonAmazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Send this to a friend