People often ask me if I write poetry. Which I find interesting – in the same way I find it interesting when other people ask if I write children's literature. On the one hand I'm not sure why they think I might. Do art historians keep getting asked if they paint, I wonder? On the other hand and to be fair, there does seem to be something about poetry in particular that makes for a lot of crossover between theory and practice. In other words, a lot of poetry professors are also poets. And/or vice versa. I'm neither, but do, as it happens, write poetry, though more sporadically than I'd like. The other thing is that, try as I may, it often comes out as comic verse. But not always. Here's a sample of each variety. I trust that which is which is clear.
Bookmarked A red cloth cover, frayed and torn away, Reveals the furrowed spine with stubbled threads. The crinkled edge, striated cream and grey, Is seamed with loosened leaves, ridge after ridge. Below the surface, spindly letters trace A name, so like my own. What other prayers, What other marks of weakness, strength and grace Are pressed within impenetrable layers? Yet in hands they know they fall apart; The thickened pages, soft with thumbs and age, Disclose the place frequented at the heart, Where eye-worn words run smooth across the page. This book that knows its space upon the shelf, Whose imprints bear the makings of myself …
Where There’s a Will The true story of a real-life office drama related to me by the unfortunate Ellie
Will was not exactly green, but keen To make the office lean and mean; Planet-saving not his scene; “But Will, you’re living in a dream,”
Said, Eco-Ellie, “I could scream At wasted paper by the ream: Before the Arctic ice defrosts, We must recycle, at all costs.”
“Not on your nellie, Ellie, dear,” Said Willy, now the atmosphere Was getting chilly; not, alas, Because he had turned down the gas.
As Will unto the bin consigned Each paper sheet, poor Ellie sighed To hear his jest: “Oh look, another Polar bear has met its maker.”
Come birthday time, brave Ellie fought Her inclinations: kindly bought A tub of chocolate; packed the swag In a polar-bear-shaped bag.
Both chocolate and ironic style Were hits, and Will with friendly smile, Returned the bag, “for another occasion”. And thus one bear obtained salvation.