Saturday, September 19, 2009

363. How to Be a Poet

For no good reason, tell people you are a poet,
look jaded and French, no need to speak the language,
wear pebble sunglasses, a wraparound scarf,
feign wordly pain, cultivate your facial twitches:

by God, that will attract the bitches … of both sexes!
Then learn to speak from your solar plexus
as you stab the air with a cigarette, swirling a glass of wine,
modulating your accents: RP, Essex, Cockney, Strine.

First things first, get the image right.
People are too dumb or indifferent to doubt you,
they'll become your claque; they'll tout you
long long before you begin to write.

But you'll have to write something.
Pick up a newspaper. Read it.

Oh, War, oh War …
I don't know what we're fighting for!
We sink into a bog!
I used to have an Afghan friend,
he was my neighbour's dog.

Good start, everyone likes a pet …
but you haven't really got going yet.
People is where it's at.
People want to hear about people,
famous people, and not
just any old homeless twat.
Also, they have this fascination,
this adoration of motor cars.

Even on faraway Mars
there arose a solemn klaxon
at the death of Michael Jackson!
Tears did fall, they fell,
Oh My God, it was such a terrible knell!
And they did drive around in their GUTs,
7-stroke, 11-cylinder, 6100 ccs,
not quite the same as our SUVs,
but who can say, Yea! Oh, who can tell,
what serious vexing thoughts did trouble them
about the Bee Em Dubyam
that bashed into the pillar, and did spill her
rich royal blood. None of us think it ever should
have hit that column and so we think it was solemn.
Anyway, I'm afraid she died. I cried. So did you.
We felt it awfully through and through,
and I hear that even the population of Guiana
wept bitter tears at the death of Princess Diana.

Well, that was the poem that made you famous,
a rival to that navvy Seamus!
It was so tender, so beautiful,
so … Candle in the Wind!
Elton went into Rehab after that one.

Keep coming up with these darts
that quiver in the people's hearts,
and just like that, that slithery rat,
Dylan, I hear he was a Milwaukee Jew,
(hardly one of us despite the fuss)
will turn his face, sink without trace,
God knows, he's nothing on you!

You shall have no archival rival
from Shakespeare to Lovelace or Milton,
and I will bet you a wheel of Stilton
followed up by a case of champagne,
that nothing, nothing will appear again
in this green and ever-pleasant land
quite so soothing, quite so bland.

There is nothing, nothing in the least to fear,
nada nada ... not as far as I can see.
But, tell me, who's this Morrissey?

Just to sidetrack obvious questions:

1. There are several factual mistakes in the text and I give you joy in finding them! The narrator, that twit, is responsible. Not me.
2. RP is "received pronunciation" the standard British 'class' accent enforced by Public (i.e private) Schools and once the only acceptable speech of BBC announcers.
3. Essex (or "Estuary") English is the fashionable slurry mix of RP with downmarket, primarily London, accents. It's supposedly very chic and endemic among models, hip journalists, rock musicians and tabloid celebrities.
4. Strine is Oss-Strine: kangaroo English.
5. Morrissey is Morrissey (formerly of The Smiths), who currently lives in LA.