Tuesday, 22 December 2020

The Main Thing

My heart sings like a Dalek

when I’m reading a collection of poems

and I come across a trifling

typographical error.


Somehow, it matters more

when it’s a poet I love,

like Luke Kennard or Ben Lerner,

rather than one I’ve merely bought

out of politeness at a gig

(mentioning no names,

of which there are many).


Just now, on line nine,

page two-hundred-and-six

of Dean Young’s ‘Bender’

I spot an erroneous indentation.


‘Get in there!’ as my former colleagues

in the PE Department used to say.


In other much-loved collections,

I have spotted

a ‘your’ instead of a ‘you’,

and a ‘too’ instead of a ‘to’.


I proofread the typeset

of my latest tour d’absurdité

to within an inch

of its ridiculous little life.


It was perfect. 

One hundred percent no mistakes, 

and no mistake.


But there, on the page that no one reads,

‘Copyright 2020… 

the author asserts, etc…

All rights reserved. 

This edition published by Burning Eye,



Wait! What? 


Put your head in your hands, Ferg;

at least it’ll stop you

from banging it

against the nearest flat, hard surface.


The page that no one reads,

including me.

And I repeat my new mantra,

‘Should I take anything seriously?’

over and over and over


and remind myself of my favourite barb:

‘You have to laugh at yourself

every once in a while;

after all – everyone else does.’


According to many a spiritual sage,

‘There are no mistakes in the universe’,

and I wonder if there’s any mileage

in pursuing the idea that

there is perfection in imperfection.


The main thing is that no one

is likely to notice (let alone care)

and I resolve

never to tell anyone.

With What Purpose in Mind?

   for Will


I get the cheese-grater out of its hiding place

and use it to grate the banana

onto my plate of spaghetti bolognaise.


Why would anyone do such a stupid thing?

I ask myself

(rather awkwardly, as it happens).


But I am creating a work of art:

the edible and the edible, unpredictably combined

to make the inedible.


Art made, I hurl the uncomfortable bowl

against the wall

at the far end of the early morning kitchen,


because all art is temporary, like this poem,

which came from nowhere

and goes nowhere.


There is a deep satisfaction

in clearing up the meses

one fashions in this odd life,


and, like life, 

all traces of my futile endeavour

will soon be beautifully absent.