Saturday, 27 October 2018


I decide I need to write a poem about Death.
Ten Poems About Death, I muse.
Seems like a nice round number.
‘Here Death,’ I call.
‘I’m writing a sequence of poems about you.
Any comments?’
But Death does not reply,
because Death is not real.
As in corporeal real.
Death itself exists.
But not the corporeal personification of Death.
I’m not so keen on the idea of the actual personification of Death.
Bit too spooky.
But then Death does appear.
He is not wearing a hooded black cloak.
He is not carrying a scythe.
He is not a skeleton.
He is, in fact, a T-shirt.
It is, in fact, a T-shirt.
‘Death is a T-shirt?’ I say out loud.
Yes, I am a T-shirt, says Death.
No, not really.
T-shirts don’t talk,
even ones which represent Death.
‘You’re not the personification of Death, though,’ I say,
while staring at the writing on the front –
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
‘you’re a T-shirt,
and a T-shirt is not a person.’
The writing on the front of the T-shirt changes.
That’s where you’re wrong, it reads,
and underneath there appears a convoluted explanation
about how a T-shirt which is able to communicate
by expressing its thoughts on the front of itself
is a form of personification.
Sod personification anyway, says Death,
in his T-shirt way.
You’re so humancentric.
The T-shirt is a manifestation of Death,
or, to be more accurate,
the words on the front of it are a manifestation of Death,
or they were,
until they re-manifested themselves
as a convoluted explanation.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
appears once again
on the front of the T-shirt.
‘What about accidents?’ I say.
And accidents appears on the T-shirt,
followed by,
Nobody likes a smart-arse.
I pick up the T-shirt with
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
And accidents
Nobody likes a smart-arse
written on the front.
I realise I should have mentioned
suicide as well as accidents to Death,
but then remember
Nobody likes a smart-arse,
which pretty much covers
every other eventuality.
I put the T-shirt on.
It’s a one-size fits all.
‘Oh, very funny, Death.’ I say.
Yes, Death is hilarious
appears on the front of the T-shirt,
I decide against wearing it outside of the house
and spend the next hour and thirty-seven minutes
trying to persuade Death
that if he’s/it’s going to assume
a corporeal form which communicates
in the medium of ever-changing written words,
then a notebook would be far more convenient,
and obvious,
than a T-shirt.
In the meantime
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
And accidents
Nobody likes a smart-arse
reappears on the T-shirt
and, beneath it,
Live 2018
as if it’s the name of a band
touring an album.
‘Very funny, Death,’ I say, again.
I’m basically a comedian
but not on the T-shirt;
the words appear on the page
of the notebook in which I am writing.
‘Oh, very meta,’ I say.
Death’s words vanish
and are replaced with
I have work to do.
Why don’t you get on with writing
your second poem in this series?
Perhaps you could make that one like an actual poem,
with rhymes and metre and whatnot?
Instead of this stream of consciousness
which is very prosaic, really,
isn’t it?
And then the words vanish altogether,
before I have a chance to mention
that the stylistic modality of this poem
was a deliberate metaphor for
the death of poetry,
or perhaps The Death of Poetry.
The words on the T-shirt are still there,
and I go for a walk in the autumn sunshine,
notebook in hand,
sensing the imminence of winter in the air.

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