Monday, 12 November 2018

Four


A few years ago, during an earnest conversation
with a poet friend, I was told that,

according to some poet or other,
‘all poems are either about sex or death’,

which, by process of elimination,
means that all of my poems are about death.

This seems a bit unlikely, given the number of my poems
which are comic observations.

Perhaps poetry audiences
are ahead of me in understanding

what my poems are actually about,
and are more morbid than I realised.

I introduce ‘The Greatest Pleasure of Being a Parent Is to
See Other People’s Children Behave Atrociously in Public’

for about the four millionth time.
Quite funny, the audience think,

as they laugh.
We love a good poem about death. Bring it on.

‘Here’s a poem called Shoes,’ I tell my audience.
‘It’s about shoes,’ which is all the explanation they’re getting.

Shoes, they all think;
clearly a metaphor for death.

‘This poem is about cats and dogs,’
and death, adds their collective interior voice.

I will admit that my sequence
‘Ten Poems about Death’
                                                                                     
does seems to be about death,
but what do I know?

‘Here is the fourth poem in my sequence,
Ten Poems about Death,’ I say,

to the handful of people who have turned up
to hear me recite poems about death.

But they know better.
A poem explicitly about death?

they all think.
It must be a poem about sex.

But in this, they would be wrong.
Because it’s actually a poem about sex and death,

deliberately constructed to undermine
that fatuous idea, put forward by some poet or other,

that ‘all poems are either about sex or death’.
Ha! How wrong can you be?

Sex or death? What a limited poetic vision!
Why have one or the other when you can have both?

Which, okay, I realise,
sounds like a call to necrophilia.

But all poems being about sex or death
is a limited poetic vision.

Some poems are clearly about the trials of parenthood,
or shoes, or cats and dogs.

Of course, the irony here, despite what I’ve just written,
is that this isn’t a poem about sex or death,

or even sex and death;
no, it’s a poem about how not all poems are about sex or death,

which is part of a sequence of poems
about death.

A better explanation for the
‘all poems are either about sex or death’ idea

is that its originator was severely short-sighted
(which may be sex-related), and viewed the world of poetry

through some sort of weird and obsessive
sex and death confirmation bias glasses.

I shall continue writing
my sequence of poems about death,

and finish this one by stating, for the record,
that all of these poems about death

are about death.
Mainly.