(Which implies there are at least eleven others)
An opium dream granted to his editors
By Manfred Clootie
Rhyming keeps one awake; insomnia
Visits the wild-eyed poet frequently,
Muttering amor vincit omnia,
Or a fragment of attic poetry –
which ought to promote slumber instantly,
But doesn’t, for insomnia’s a bore.
It saps your strength but won’t allow a snore.
So why do rhymesters agitate themselves
To search for like endings, observe meter,
And tell a tale that ends up on the shelves,
Still in typescript? (For none can be fleeter
Than publishers avoiding poems. Sweetere
To them the stories of lovers forlorn,
Whose acts, when closely scrutinised, yield porn.)
There’s but one reason; it’s a rhyming itch
That torments those whose mothers were once shocked
At just the right moment by a witch
In the shape of a metronome. She knocked
At the door, and when answered she tick-tocked,
Then chimed on every tenth beat; and months later
Was born a babe obsessed with rhyme and meter.
Enough of that! I’ll start with a confession.
Within these verses you may find a tale,
Which suffers interruption by digression,
A train that strays from its directing rail,
And never quite delivers any mail.
So when I leave my track, put up with me,
For I’m not one for linearity.
So many stanzas gone, and still no theme.
Our hero is asleep, it seems, the play
Perhaps has not been written – still a dream
In a rhymer’s head. The crowd goes away,
Muttering, demanding refunds. Next day
It’s splashed in all the papers: Poet fails
To find what’s written in his own entrails.
Now! With a cymbal bash I shall begin.
Our great word-spinner, sponger on his friends,
(If he has any friends), lives in sin
With a female meat-inspector who attends
To his needs, pampers him, and always sends
Flowers to his mother on her birthday
(Though these ten years Mum’s been beneath the clay.)
But this is no novel, so I shall not say
What kind of house our poet has, nor shall I
Decribe the sunsets he has seen, the way
He makes a living, how he fought a squall
In a rowboat – or anything at all –
In fact, I’m so poor at describing things
I’d rather annotate the Book of Kings
Or go and see a film, or meditate,
Only my legs won’t cross without breaking,
And my mind won’t rest in a steady state.
I’ll do something monstrously earth-shaking –
Or I’ll return perhaps to stanza-making,
For after all, while under Adam’s curse
We all must work, and my work’s making verse.
But now what’s up? My brain’s begun to sputter.
I’m seeing snakes, the room is all a-spin
My cataract of verse, now but a gutter,
Will soon dry up completely. It’s a sin
To be in the condition I am in –
The later stage of manic verse-creation,
When the mind’s a long abandoned railway station
Bitten by dogs and aped by brats, I lope
Through the long grass, drooling and yodelling,
My long coat snagged by twigs, the canteloup
Which is my head squashed flat: my brain a-coddling.
(For the Maniac’s Gazette, I’m truly modelling.)
I haven’t felt so free since grandma’s head
Was found inside a loaf of home-baked bread.
So if you would grow old in peace, beware
Of rhyming. Give yourself to prose.
You’ll sleep at night, and maybe keep your hair.
Unless of course you’re truly one of those
Choice spirits whose every poem goes
Aloft and pleases the celestial throng,
As I thought I was. Ah, but I was wrong