Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Idea

It's National Poetry Day today! Of course, this makes absolutely no difference to me whatsoever as a poet - nobody has booked me for a gig this year, and as there's barely a day where I don't think about poetry or a poem I'm writing, a special occasion for the form does feel a bit like a Busman's Holiday.  

Still, it's a chance for people who wouldn't normally consider delving into poetry to spend a few moments considering its many merits, and given that it remains a very fringe art form there's nothing wrong with that.  If anything, I wish a slightly bigger deal was made of it, with more broadcasting outlets than Radio Four involved. Was there really no room for BBC4 to do something tonight, for example?  (It's the least we should expect.  Even a poetry programme way outside prime time would have been a start.)  

Annoyance with the BBC aside... whilst I could, if I wanted, allow the day to pass without a blog update, I'd probably end up feeling a bit left out.  So please find "The Idea" below.  This was a common feature of live performances about four or five years ago but has fallen out of the set for now - it's unpublished and there's no reason why it shouldn't be in the public domain.  Enjoy.

The Idea

It sleeps in the desk drawer,
but only for a year; you can’t
keep mediocrity down.
Fate has decreed your
clumsy hand will
chance upon it in the dust,
in the dead skin from the
wrought-out hand-wringing
sessions of blocked days.

It never seems like much at first,
but always has the air of “something”,
so you walk outside with it, and
watch as hungry for attention it
grabs the faces of passers-by,
pulls at their lips, seems to
force them to say
“What a fantastic idea!” and
“How did you come to it?” and
“Who’d have thought!” and you
smile, nod, accept praise
at this stage, pretend
you’d thought of it yesterday.

Word gets around.
This something is more than something.
Journalists are most excited.
Sponsors ring you on the phone.
Dictators quote you in speeches.
Before you know where you are,
London Underground have signs
reading “This station is
closed at X hour, for that is
when the man with the novel
idea walks past, and we
cannot cope with the
congestion of people
clamouring for his attention.”

Your photo in the paper
reveals a grin as false
as a school photo snap smile, a
protractor forced down
between your lips.
You have touched the hearts and
souls of many with a
dusty, half-formed reject of an
idea, and this is the
price you pay – to be
known for it, to
talk about it
until the day you die,
knowing it will surely
outlive you.

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