For John on His 60th Birthday

By Robert Ilson

Sixty already! Time to take a break.

Don't stay repressed.

Tell all your kith and kin: I Have To Paint!

They'll be impressed.


Off to Tahiti! But when there, eschew

The Liloed shore.

Head inland where the beasts and forests are

And so much more.


Build there a hut of clay and wattles made.

Set up your easel.

Ensure your heart is reasonably pure

So that no sleaze'll

Corrupt your judgement. 

Then corral some girls

To pose for free

-- That is, if you can get them ere they go



Nude's best for such an enterprise as yours.


They'll think : That's Art ; so it's unlikely they'll

Be scandalised.


When finally your Oeuvre is complete,

Bid them Adieu

And hurry back to London: le Tout-Cork-Street

Will flatter you.


Enjoy !  For sooner than you think Age, AIDS,

And Alcohol

-- Those enemies of promise - will arise

To take their toll


-- Unless, of course, you settle for Plan B

And try a life

With what you have already : your good friends,

Your kids, your wife.


Walk on the Wild Side or stroll nearer home :

It's up to you.

I think I know, though, if the choice were mine,                                                                                

What I would do.