The Last Poem I’ll Ever Write

Echoes by Jesse Lane

The Last Poem I’ll Ever Write

To write a poem was the task
I set out to achieve.
Surely that’s not much to ask,
An easy art in which to bask –
With so few words upon the page,
I’ll strut upon their verbal stage
With fiery passion, gothic rage,
And earn myself a healthy wage.

But as I try to flow my words
I suddenly recall
That prior to my boast absurd,
’Twas but with prose my voice was heard.
So now I’m fighting to define
A rhythm with no sense of time.
I jar the meter, strain the rhyme,
And hammer into place the line.

With plaintext, now, there is no squeeze,
Just liberty unbound –
No form to keep, or rhyme appease,
I use what words I bloody please.
And yet for all it has to tell
Such prose so slowly works its spell –
But poems rouse and poems quell
So swift, so much, and so damned well.

And so shall I, if my lines loose
Can all join up in rhyme –
Too oft, alas, I’m chasing goose
When searching for a couplet’s deuce.
Some perfect words, oh yes !  Oh no !
The rhymes are close, they almost go –
If we can just pronounce them so ?
They almost work, will have to do.

In fact, I see I’m not alone,
For even pros get stumped.
For even poets have been known
To clank a line they cannot hone.
No more these pointless rhymes unwise !
No more these hamstrung verbal ties !
For when it works, it sings and flies,
And when it stalls, it chokes and dies.

Of course, I need not rhyme my song,
’Tis only one approach.
But to me it seems quite wrong
Rejecting this tradition long
While this art’s held in modish grip
Abhorring letting couplets slip.
I want a rhyme that darts and skips,
Not prose that’s hacked-up into strips.

And even then, I’ve had to cheat,
My second lines hang loose.
My own command I cannot meet,
Such irony is harsh defeat.
I pad-out lines with rhymes so fake
And tenuous for rhyming’s sake,
While half the points I try to make
Won’t fit this rigid frame,
and break.

So this quaint need I hold so dear
For ‘proper’ poetry
Will thwart me now from making clear
That which I wish the world to hear –
My feeble efforts howl with pain,
My content swamped in verbal strain,
My labours wasted, all in vain !

I shan’t be trying this again.

Less Bohemian, More Czech

Less Bohemian, More Czech

All great Artists have a vice,
But I’m a tepid type –
I try to keep my manners nice
And give no cause for hype.
I’ll never be a rabble-rousing rebel,
Nor a cad,
Just knocking back the trebles
On my way to going mad,
With my pockets full of pebbles
And a need for worship bad
I’m much more pipe-and-slippers (less the pipe).
I guess I am a Larkin or an Eliot at heart
Than a Dylan or a Kingsley with a passion full of art –
I mean, I have a mongrel and a mortgage for a start !
And I always found Romantics over-ripe.
I guess I’m not an Artist-capital-A,
But that’s okay.
(And it really ain’t my mode, that way.)
I’m hardly a conspiracist, eccentric and uncouth,
I’m not a Goth or horny toad, or tender, tortured youth,
Or rainbow-dressed consumptive who is dying for some Truth –
That’s just a load of self-obsessing tripe !

Unfinished

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

Unfinished

Must not lie back on the poems I’ve written,
Those sonnets and couplets are all in the past –
Thoughts from a week ago, month ago, years,
Thoughts of their moment, but never my last.
Haven’t I changed since, even a little bit ?
Diff’rently conscious, evolving, hard-won.
Got to keep writing, keep feeling, keep living,
For what good’s a poet who thinks their work done ?

Catalyst

Morphogénèse 3 by Marina Dieul

Catalyst

Cats crop up in poetry
Like they do in neighbours’ kitchens,
But when it’s time for serious,
They’re nowhere near to pitch in.
They haven’t time for heavy metaphor
Or mopey musing –
And earnest stream-of-consciousness
Will send them straight to snoozing.
But crack a smile and shake some wit,
Or balladeer some derring-do,
And lapping up the limericks,
Here comes the kitty-crew:
Pepperpot and Sootikin,
The tyger tyger in the hat,
Macavity and Pangur Ban,
The owl-loving pussycat,
In nurseries and nightclubs,
In the scary and absurd,
We’re sure to stumble over them
Wherever words are purred.

The Poets’ Almagnac

The Poets’ Almagnac

One more tot and then I’ll start –
My pen’s uncapped and primed,
Indeed it’s been that way all afternoon.
I know my almanac by heart,
With beats precisely timed
And metric feet to dance to ev’ry tune.
It lays it out by grid and chart
Of syllables that chime,
By trochees by the phases of the Moon.
But writing’s such a thirsty art,
Especially when it’s rhymed –
But one more tot and I’ll be starting soon.

Heroic Verse

Viking Axe by Lexx

Heroic Verse

Bloodaxe Books are publishers of poetry –
And what a name !
As though these are the sagas of berserkers
Seeking Thor and fame,
For telling down the trestles of the feasting hall
From lord to knight,
Or singing by the troubadours to mistresses
By candlelight.
Odes to ale and hymns to war,
And saucy wenches by the score –
To lustily recount and roar,
And ready for a fight.
Or razor-sharp in their attacks,
From broadside blasts to cutting hacks –
Their impish imprint swings the axe
To let their verses bite.

All my teenage years I sought
For such a name –
Till, furnace-wrought, it came !

Not for them, one conjures, the namby-pamby
Hearts on sleeves –
Nor whinging confessionals,
Or whimsies to the Autumn leaves –
No, these are the words of men of action,
And dames of destiny,
To stir my loins and quick my heart
And never rest in me.
Yet much of what they print is dry –
Their blade is dull, their name a lie –
A rubber-and-ketchup alibi
That’s sorely testing me.
So spare me flabby free-verse faff,
And mopey milksops full of chaff –
I need good craic to blow the gaff
And hone the best of me.

I guess what they do has its place,
But all the same,
It’s such a waste of a name…

Scanning the Last Words of Lines

Nothing to do with the poem, I just thought it a curious name for a nail-polish.

Scanning the Last Words of Lines

Street, white, hand, song – No rhymes there, best move along.
Roots, come, page, near – Shan’t be lurking long ’round here.
Found, sharp, luck, role –  Nothing there to lurch my soul.
Pen, sighed, when, tide – Go on then, I’ll take a ride.

Et Ego in Ego

Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

Et Ego in Ego

Poets: we’re never too subtle or shy –
We’re big on the drama, on even the small days.
The all-knowing pen of the all-seeing I,
In the first-person first, and last, and always.
With a couchful of angst and a sleeveful of heart,
We splinter all meaning, we trample all art –
For we are the masters of words,
And are well-worth the fuss.
Depend upon it, from old boy to upstart –
For all of our sonnets to lovers and birds,
Our verses are all about us.

Calling All Stations

train with smoke
Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com

Calling All Stations

Enjambment – it’s a nasty little habit
That’s likely to derail the locomotion of your meter –
For lines that run-away are sure to rabbit,
So prose may ride expresses, but the slow train sounds the sweeter.

Yet another poem about poetry, but at least it’s short.  I’ve always been puzzled by where modern poets choose to break their lines, particularly as when they read it out, there’s often no pause whatsoever between the lines.  The verb ‘to rabbit’ is used here in its cockney sense meaning to chatter – nothing to do with running, except the mouth.

The Curse of the Couplets

The Son of Man by Rene Magritte

The Curse of the Couplets

A minister’s office.  There is a knock and the Professor enters.

Minister
Ah, professor, good afternoon.
It’s really very good of you to see me quite so soon.

Professor
Oh, no trouble, Minister, no trouble at all.
I came the very minute that I first received your call.

Minister
Then let me bring you up to speed the problem facing here:
Something has been happening, and something very queer.
Something has affected quite the very way we speak,
It’s spread across the nation within only half a week,
It’s very hard to spot, of course, which makes it all the worse –
But each and ev’ry citizen has started talking verse.

Professor
But surely you don’t mean…

Minister
Alas, I rather mean I do.

Professor
But what then made you realise ?

Minister
(on intercom)
Ah, Bridget, tea for two.
(to Professor)
Oh, little things, just nagging doubts.

Professor
You thought you had some pests ?

Minister
We wanted to be certain, so we ran a batch of tests.
We’ve got our finest boffins out there looking for the source.

Professor
But why then did you turn to me ?

Minister
It’s time to alter course.
We need to find an antidote, we really can’t delay.
And that is why I called you in…

Bridget
(entering)
We’re out of Earl Grey.

Minister
Well never mind, well never mind, I’m sure this shall suffice.

Bridget exits.

Professor
I really can’t imagine I could give you sound advice.

Minister
But you’re our finest scholar, you must surely have some clue ?

Professor
Nothing at the moment, I’m afraid.

Minister
One lump, or two ?

Professor
But are you really certain that we’re talking all in rhymes ?
There hasn’t been a mention in the Telegraph or Times.

Minister
We’ve had to keep it hush-hush so as not to cause a panic.
Would you like a ginger-nut ?  Don’t worry, they’re organic.
Of course, it isn’t fatal – no, the country’s not entombed –
It’s just so very curious…

Professor
We’re doomed, by God, we’re doomed !

Minister
Now not to be alarmist, or to overstate things grossly,
You’d never even know it’s there unless you listen closely
To the steady pitter-patter in the rhythm of each sentence…

Professor
We’re doomed, I say !  We must all pray, and beg the Lord’s repentance.

Minister
Professor !  Pull yourself together !  I need you now to think;
There must be something, anything, to save us from the brink ?

Professor
Wait !  There may be something…the problem is systemic.

Minister
The problem is we’ve staring at a bloody epidemic !

Professor
The problem is within the brain and its linguistic centre
Now, usually it’s very good at recognising…

Door knock

Minister
Enter.

Bridget enters and clears the tea things.

Professor
…the diff’rences in how we speak, but something has confused it.

Bridget
Shall I clear the paper, too ?

Minister
I haven’t yet perused it.

Professor
We need to shake it up again, with something quite sublime:
By ending ev’ry sentence with a word that doesn’t rhyme !
Now ev’ryone’s aware that there is nothing rhymes with orange…

Bridget
I’ve contacted the builders to come and fix the door hinge.

Professor
Another word that comes to mind – there’s none to find with chimney.

Bridget
That Watkins tries to feel my legs – he said I had a trim knee.

Professor
There must be more, there must be more – I’m sure we’re safe with plinth.

Bridget
That gift I need to buy your son – was it guitar or synth ?
I’ve called the milliners – your wife has found her trilby small.
Will there be something else ?

Minister
No thanks, I think that will be all.

Bridget exits.

Professor
There’s must be more examples, such as anxious, purple, month…

Minister
No rhyme, say you ?  That can’t be true !  Why, surely there is…
There is…
Hah !  You’ve done it !  I’ve stopped rhyming.  How can I ever thank you professor ?  Your suggestion will save the country.  Finally, we can stop the rhyme.

Professor
That’s alright, Minister.  Any time.