My interest in poetry began at an early age. I dabbled with writing the stuff as I grew older: most of it was in some 'traditional' form or other, with metres and stanzas and all other such things. Then in 1999 I happened to be called upon to proofread a reissuing of a book examining the lives and works of a dozen major modern US poets - Ferlinghetti, Bukowski, Lamatia and Corso to name but four. This was a mind -opening experience... unlike almost any poetry I'd encountered before. So now, back in the UK for a while and living somewhere in the tangled skein of streets that is the Wigan MBC, I continue to write poetry and on the odd occasion read them aloud to a captive audience. (They have to be captives, you see; they tend to run away otherwise.) And so, in conclusion: I am simply a man who writes poetry. Sometimes I stand up in front of a roomful of people and read it aloud. This makes me uncomfortable: I would much rather sit somewhere in the room, unseen, so that my voice might fill the space with the words and yet I am not there, like the radio voice that streamed ineffably through the night to my darkened bedside. Yet the applause that follows is too gratifying to give up, and the words will not shape themselves into structure; a dictionary is a paean, not a poem. I shall take my bow after all.
‘He was just a young man’ He was just a young man with his whole life ahead of him who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time In town with his boyfriend a night on the town theatre restaurant bar In a place where ‘this sort of thing never happens’ Coming out going home happy loved in love this young man who wanted to be a writer who had already published five poems and a romantic story under a pseudonym and had received so much life from them Stabbed in the chest by a piss-artist with a slag a bad case of alcohol overload testosterone poisoning and balls bigger than his brain And as the quick, silver, quicksilver knife jumped clear the blood began to flow Only it was black only it was black; it was warm and smelt sweet it smelt of fountain pens and typewriters And when he tried to beg for help his breath smelt of ozone, hot and laser-dry He collapsed to the ground, bleeding ink-black life into the gutter as that illiterate mangelwurzel fuckwit benefit-bred Man Of The People walked off laughing for a piss up an alley wall and a drunken fuck in bed And all this time our boy is lying And all this time his boy is crying crying, pleading pleading for help His hands coated in mimeographic blood that clots to words on the pavement The ambulance comes and takes them both away And the rain comes in the night soft, innocent rain and washes the blood away All except for one spot caught in a crack in the pavement congealed that says WHY? The night after a 22-year-old straight-A post-gap-year law graduate named Gwendoline threw up her seventeen vodkas five cocktails and a chicken tikka masala on that exact, precise spot and answered the question perfectly.
All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.
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