Advice to the poet from a five-hour drunk
He says: “Thing is” – oh, here we go – “about your stuff,
it’s quite, it’s quite often, it’s often melon…”
I say: ‘What?”
He says: “Cholic. Yeah?”
– In the hazed gap of micro-seconds between his statement and
my reply, I’m thinking, what’s he getting at? Does he mean my stuff
is morbidly fascinating, pessimistic, or simply miserable?
I say: “Yeah, it can be”
He says: “But sometimes, sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes. Also.”
– I think, good, at least that’s a positive, all those years
sharpening my wry, have not gone to waste, entirely.
I say: “thanks”
He says: “I wonder though, if maybe, you should try
another style. As well. More pointed, like you are in real life…”
I wonder if opinionated, shouting at the radio me,
would work, if written down, in a more considered way,
– and then panic...
Have, somehow, the pints enabled him to tune into my
innermost thoughts and worries? The nagging fears
leaking out into the pub air – my blog, poems, are boring,
grey, grey, flat and twee, filled with bang-average observation,
no-one wants to know, the banal reflections of an utterly
unremarkable, if over-sensitive white-man of a certain age.
In vino veritas, or whatever the Latin for 6% dry-cider truth might be.
I say: “Hmm”
He says: “Take a different approach. Add another option.
Cutting, yeah? More strident. You know, the naturey stuff,
going for a walk, be less ambiguous – make it sharper, direct…”
I say: “well, I suppose, to me, the light and dark are intertwined,
I try to explore the tentative – uncertainty – what I feel about something,
isn’t always clear, or sharp, I’m not always sure what I think myself
and the doubt comes through in the writing…”
Whilst thinking – is he expecting me to call climate change a cunt?
And people who drop litter? And wrap dog turds up in little bags,
left swinging on a tree: rage, rage, rage against the tying of the shite.
He says: “Edge”, nodding.
I say: “Well…”
He says: “what you need is…”
I think: Oh no, he’s going to say I need a ‘thing’. A polished POV.
Perhaps a bitter one, or a furious one, less resigned to desperately
trying, failing, then trying again to find the best in things.
But the only angle I’ve got is me.
He says: “what you need is more you, inject more you,
I think, what are you on about? Then I think, Oh no,
I can’t. I won’t. Not that. I can’t do open, raw. Searing.
Can I? Should I be tearing out my viscera, my organs,
waving my heart around on a stick, like a fat emotional toffee
apple, except one bathed in blood and dripping with feeling,
and I’ll wave it, until it’s all covered in fluff, and snot and cry
and sweat and sex – and then set it alight and stamp on it,
as it burns, whilst shouting in capitals about all the angry and
all the people I’ve ever let down and all the people who’ve ever
let me down and all the relationships that haven’t gone the way
I wanted, and and some people are really good at doing that and
sharing that but I’m not sure…
I say: “Do you think I should wave my heart on a stick?”
He says: “Huh?”
I say: “Be more open, raw, brutal, expose myself”
He says: “No, bit more…oomph. Fancy another pint?”