Saturday, 11 April 2009

Poems about nothing

I haven’t really got time to write about anything today - too busy with another deadline and enjoying the brilliant David Tennant and Catherine Tate, standing in for Jonathan Ross on Radio 2 - so here are a couple of poems I made earlier about nothing:


This poem is a five-finger exercise,
A sort of step-aerobics for the brain.
I’m writing it to keep my biro busy.
It’s just some random letters in a chain.

These lines are a contractual obligation;
They fulfil my poem quota for the year.
They’re just a bit of debris for the poem pile.
The lines are dead, the message isn’t here.

This poem was written with my left hand.
I drafted it while otherwise employed.
You can’t finesse these words into a meaning.
Please read and then consign them to the void.


Poets used to put their faith in rhetoric,
Knocking off lines for some rich toff.
Or, in pre-PC days, perhaps a quick
Plea to a girl to get her corset off.

Find a theme, then match it with a style:
Poetry was strictly pick’n’mix.
A few words from your “elegiac” file;
Some well-remembered, write-by-numbers tricks.

No waiting round for fickle muses -
Just dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
No need to pick at scabs and bruises;
Poetry for self-assembly, please.

Mundane quote for the day: ‘Routines and regularities, habits and obligations. Or, simply, ways. “Doth he not see my ways?” asks Job. I can hardly avoid seeing my friends’ ways, or they mine. Most are so habitual that I can hear, imaginatively speaking, their kettle going on. Their holidays – and mine – exist to disturb these ways for a week or two. According to the brochure, the more disturbance the better. Disturbance is good for you and, anyway, you have paid a lot of money for it. Alas for such wild expense, for I know my friends’ ways well enough to tell when they will be putting the kettle on in Padstow or Pisa. It’s all against the brochure, of course, which has been so tightly packed with disarrangement as to leave no space for what we always do at home, or so its author hopes. “Arise at nine (nine?), and drink delicious chilled something or other,” it commands. Well, thank God for the World Service and tea-bags. Quite a few village friends are at this moment being led by the brochure to where it promises to upset their habits or unchain their libidos but how, poor colourful bit of paper, is it to compete with their ways?’ – Ronald Blythe, Out of the Valley: Another Year at Wormingford


  1. Joe - I am commenting as Anon since I can't quite get how to enter my Word Press details. If you visit you will be able to surmise who I am. I particularly enjoyed the verse. Fit for inclusion in the next Oxford Anthology; not sure which. Tom

  2. Sorry Joe. Typing bad as ever. Substitute 5 for 3 in the penultimate didgit i.e. the correct address is http://s157946058