writing

Vocabulary

He chose his words carefully.
Each one a gun, a grenade or a knife.
Beneath the rattle and stutter,
the swagger and bluster,
lay a bruise, an assault, and a life.

Unseen Poem

OK. Turn the page. Right, here goes …
The first line’s straightforward, I suppose.
At least I know what the words all mean.
It has an AA BB rhyming scheme.
 
What’s that French word for when one line
runs into the next? Jambon? Never mind.
Susan Jenkins is smiling, I bet she knows.
Oh great! Now the rhymes have disappeared
 
and the language is getting more obfuscatory
by the stanza. The voice keeps changing.
At first, it was confident. But now it’s confused
uncertain (?) and … hesitant?
 
and as for this bit
what was the poet even thinking?
 
(personally, i think
they must have been drinking)
 
Susan Jenkins needs more paper.
I hate her. There are ten minutes left.
What’s this poem all about anyway?
No idea. I shall just have to guess.
 
I’ll say it’s a metaphor for death.

Announcements

We would like to apologise for the delay.
This is due to the wrong kind of deal,
which indeed is any kind of deal
that might make your forward journey possible
at this time.
 
Passengers are advised to seek
alternative countries
where available.

We would like to apologise for the delay.
This is due to a mechanical fault
in the machinery of government.
A team of engineers is working to fix this problem.
We hope to continue on our journey
in the autumn of 2055.

Passengers are advised
that a government replacement service
will not be operating on these routes
at this time.

We would like to apologise for the delay.
This is due to leavers on the line.
A buffet car serving refreshments,
including hot and cold snacks,
will not be available.

Passengers are advised
to somehow keep their sense of belonging with them
at all times.
 
We would like to apologise for the delay,
signalling failure
at this time.

To Do List

1. Delay with an urgent hesitation.
2. Be unwavering in vacillation.
3. Embrace the art of equivocation.
4. Read a book on procrastination.

5. Dilly-dally; dither; be dilatory.
6. Drink tea through the day continually.
7. Look up ‘avoidance’ in the dictionary.
8. Ignore all forms of worthwhile industry.

9. Break for lunch

10. Ponder the intrinsic nature of work.
11. Re-prioritise which tasks to shirk.
12. Allow three hours to hem and haw.
13. Lollygag; chew my jaw.

14. Stroke the cat; lose my pen.
15. Re-do tasks from one to ten
16. Lurch and flounder; loll and wallow.
17. Write To Do list for tomorrow.

Penguins

They were sighted off the south-east coast,
drifting in towards the port;
their boat, a snapped-off block of ice,
melting slowly in the warmth.
 
By the docks, a crowd had formed itself;
mob-angry, it looked on.
Placards were thrust. A chant began:
GO BACK TO WHERE YOU’RE FROM.
 
‘They’re just economic migrants,’
declared a spokesman for the right.
‘They’ve come to rob us of our jobs.
It’s as clear as black and white.’
 
‘Tragic,’ said the Home Secretary,
mock-sadness suppressed his smirk.
‘We’d let them stay but here’s the rub –
they have no paperwork.’
 
‘They’ll undermine Our Way of Life!’
The warnings raged on Twitter.
‘They stink of fish.’ ‘They’ll rape your wife.’
‘There’s bombs beneath those flippers.’
 
‘PENGUIN CLAIMS “MY HOME IS MELTING!”’
The Sun printed in disgust.
‘But whose fault is THAT – except THEIR OWN?
What’s that to do with US?’
 
The last of the ice had disappeared.
The penguins battled through the foam,
swimming, swimming,
from land to land,
searching for a home.

This Bookshop Life

I’d buy everything from a bookshop if I could.
All my food would come from there.
Atwooden tables I would sit, eating Dahl,
Kipling Tartts or chocolate Baudelaires.
There’d be flat tortillas, focaccia and the rye:
it would be a literary-luncheoned life of pie,
all washed down with a glass of Carver
or a Swift half, if I’d rather.
 
I would make myself an Eco-friendly home:
go Greene and buy recycled tomes.
It Wodehouse a Self-portrait in the attic,
where no-one else could look at it,
and a looking-glass, of course, for the hall,
(amazing how I’ve not changed at all).
My house would Spark delighted looks;
I’d build a coffee table out of coffee table books.
 
I would also buy my clothes from there:
ragged trousers, experimental novel underwear,
dust jackets and striped pyjamas.
Boyd by the comments that I would Garner,
my days would pass quite Harper Lee,
this bookshop life, these books and me.