Monday, 23 April 2018


I look at some of the things
I’ve had to write about recently –
and I have had to write about them,
or else: why even be a poet?

Things like my father’s suicide,
or the strangeness of a lifetime of separation
from my family.

And I think:
no wonder I’m not writing
whimsical pieces of fluff and la,

or fast-paces comic poems
exploding with rhyme.

It’s in this frame of mind
that I pick up the latest Billy Collins collection,
but instead of helping me lose myself,
his wistfulness lights my short fuse.

Can’t you write something with a bit more impact
than a gentle breeze?

While you were looking at a bird,
drinking a cup of tea,
or ruminating on an early morning,
did Fate never stab you in the back,
and then push you down the stairs?

Apparently not.

I scribble words,
use brackets and crossings-out,
draw arrows, mark insertions,

erase the obvious misfits
and, courtesy of some rewrites,
arrive at an ending.

What a relief
to have been exercised about something
so unimportant.

I return to the collection and read a poem.
‘What a Woman Said to Me After a Reading in Nappa Valley’,
and lose myself in wistful poignance.

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