A Poem by Jeff Phelps

Note of caution for a son going off to university

Of midnight encounters with the law,
of pubs that lock the inner door,
of too much detergent in the washing machine drawer
be careful.

Of women who say ‘I’ll call you back’,
of botulism, Little Chef, Big Mac,
of dandruff, pyorrhoea, plaque,
be careful.

Of the condom borrowed from a well-meaning friend,
of accelerating into an unlit bend,
of staying at the party till the bitter end,
please, be careful.

When mixing metaphors, mixing drinks,
avenging pranks, creating stinks,
studying all night or unblocking sinks,
at least try to be careful.

Of being self-righteous, intolerant of vice,
of being impatient, of being too ‘nice’,
and regarding poems spiked with advice,
son, be careful.


Note of Caution appears in the pamphlet, Wolverhampton Madonna (Offa’s Press).


Jeff Phelps’s poems have appeared in Stand, The Rialto, London Magazine and elsewhere. In 2001 he was second prize winner in the Stand open poetry competition with River Passage, a poem about the river Severn. His pamphlet Wolverhampton Madonna was published by Offa’s Press in October 2016. River Passage with piano music by Dan Phelps is available on CD and the app is available from the i-tunes store.  jeffphelps.co.uk