Sunday, November 20, 2005

Revision: Five reasons why ...

Five reasons why I shall never be a Great Poet

1. I do not read much new poetry
A well-loved book
of poems is like:
a friend come home
to rest his head
in my lap; a cat
in hard covers;
the cracking chatter
of ice cubes soused
with two fingers of aged
malt whisky; the dance
of a lover in bed.

2. I do not like discussing poetry
The way the chatter found its way
to verse was strange; a journey round
the hills of glamour magazines,
celebrity affairs. We passed
beyond to news, the politics
of sex and scandal kept our lips
in spit for ages then - without
a care we parked our switch-back chat
on novels, writers, folks who use
the pen to charm and stroke and trash
each other: critics, poets. I
fell silent then, and drank my beer.

3. I do not like promoting myself
The man who dresses up his shop window
doesn't have a name - not one I know
in any case. And yet I know him
through his choice of colour, trim,
fabric. Metal paints - not matt -
tell me he's a Chancer Man
who tempts and treats his clients
with products dressed to fix their pliant
needs, their dreams and hopes
resolved - exchange some notes
and take away the merchandise!
I know the clever man, his enterprise
to dress his windows, Mister no-name man:
I know he isn't me.

4. I can't abide poetry readings
The beast is circled: the shuffling struts
of wood have inched it through the door
and past the bar until it feels a flat
of cold wall against its back, a stage
beneath its feet. The struts that swirled
around its legs now squat in rows: some of them
have riders, moist and pink with frocks
and shirts and comfy shoes, drink in hand
and rustly prisons gripped tight
in pockets. Their breathless eagerness
scares the beast - I watch it shake,
in spotlights; I watch the torture tool
plug in and amplify. I watch the riders
mount the stage and beat it hard
with similes and strophes. And when it howls
I bow my head: a prayer for poetry,
who suffers for the art.

5. I don't understand the publishing game
Dear sir! I'd like to thank you dearly
from the bottom of my sharded heart
for taking time to reject my verse
in such a pleasant manner. The note
was crisp and white and creased
so clinically, my heart near flew
in admiration. And when I'd caged it
once again it fluttered when I saw
your note matched - line for line
and crease for crease - the other notes
you sent me just last week,
and the month before!

I seem to be avoiding writing my novel. Oh, well ...

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