Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lines From An Art Gallery In October Half Term

So I thought it was about time I tried a Sestina. This was supposed to be about lazy parents, but such is Formal Poetry...

The children never seem to see the Art.
Instead, they gravitate towards the screens
Like bees to flowers; pausing briefly by
The nudes, they giggle at each naked breast,
Then back to telly, that familiar friend,
Companion through their daily, waking life.

Presumably, not told there’s more to life –
That music, sculpture, poetry, and art,
Enrich existence like the warmth of friends,
Much more than cold and sterile TV screens,
That leave a chill inside each budding breast,
That kill young curiosity just by

Their very presence. Words and worlds slip by
Unnoticed: Advertising screaming “Life
Is Short! You must go buy yourself new breasts!
No time to stand admiring wanky art!
Instead, see our new range of plasma screens –
They’ll make you happier than all your friends!

“In fact, you’ll never need another friend –
Just go and get this DVD that’s by
That lovely Jordan, star of stage and screen,
A wonderful example for your life:
She “Dint no nuffin’ ‘bout no fackin’ art!”
And, on that subject: trust us on the breasts.

“And gentlemen, since we are talking breasts,
Look! Here’s a busty woman – tell your friends!
This isn’t using sex to sell, it’s art!
You, too, can have this woman, simply by
Just purchasing this car! So get a life!
(And please remember: always watch the screen).”

Because they’re everywhere now, aren’t they, screens?
Just making sure you’re always kept abreast
Of all the latest offers – as if life
Were better knowing that some actor “friend”
Says anything – if there is cash put by,
And, in the process, turns his back on Art.

If you live life beset by blaring screens,
If Art and Commerce battle in your breast,
A friendly tip: just switch off, don’t stand by.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Things To Do When You Arrive In Town

My friend and poetry hero Ross Sutherland, many moons ago, wrote a poem called Things To Do Before You Leave Town. This is the other side of the story.

Attempt to unpack everything
You've never used
And never will,
But you'll keep in a box anyway.
Spend four hours on hold
To Virgin Media, wishing you knew
Which bag your hands-free kit was in.
Check the toilet seat.
Read the mail of people
You will only ever know
By their first initial.
Divide local newsagents
Into those you will shop in,
And those you will use for porn.
Find something creepy
Behind the radiator:
A bloodstain, a map of Ancient Persia.
Stare out the window.
Give names to the cats on your avenue.
Walk the streets,
Taking special notice
Of the cracked paving stones,
For late-night celestial navigation.
Note the bookies, the offies,
The places that sell pizza,
The chippies that are open on Mondays.
As dusk falls, look nonchalantly
Into the living-rooms of neighbours.
Do not attempt to ring your mother.
Do not attempt to ring your ex.
Do not attempt to find a prostitute -
You cannot afford one.
You can still prop up a bar
Where somebody's playing guitar,
Get drunk for two hours
In the barman's flat,
On stolen brandy,
Before realising he's a little bit weird.
Come sunrise,
Go, and smoke a joint
At a point
                      That makes no sense at all.