Sunday, March 12, 2006

Early in the morning and, as Fleur Adcock, that wonderful poet wrote, the small worries start flooding in and they stand around you and hassle you.

I've been bothered by the worries of trying to earn a living recently - the frustrations of bureaucracy, relentless boring e mails that waste my time, of unspoken and hidden agendas, of people jostling for position and imagining there is such a thing as a career in poetry. What a joke!

I have to remind myself that at its best, and it can be brilliant, poetry is play. I know a couple of artists who understand this better than anyone, people I've worked with and it has seemed like fraud being paid for buying lovely paper and pencils for people to write and draw with! An environmental scientist, too - we've wandered around looking at bat holes in oak trees and phantom midge larva..... is possible to have fun at work, but why are there so many pen pushers around, dulled by ticking boxes, assessing us, meeting targets, repeating government jargon that should be kept where it belongs, in Whitehall, and not allowed out to bother us?

Other pet hates: people who claim to be a poet/performer/musician/film-maker/dancer/dj/storyteller......and more.....all in one. How many titles does one person need? Or is it just a question of covering all the angles for paid work?

Anyway, off the's another poem from the Commandments series. I thought I'd put it up because there's so much about religion at the moment and I know I'm an expert having endured years at a convent.

And then, a very recent one. I decided I'd post it because I performed it recently and it was fun. I know quite a few people who'd fit into this category. It's maybe a newer direction for me - not quite stand up comedy, but less lyrical anyway. I can't see the lyrical stuff fading away, but I like it when the wacky ones come along. Maybe they're a by product of waking up at 5 am. Actually today it was 3.30 am. Well, it gives me writing time!


The other woman

She has more sex than a grain mountain,
trades it on world markets and knows
where he is when you don’t.

She texts him the entire Kama Sutra,
promising to fork French patisserie
into his mouth, sweet with custard.

The other woman’s like new neighbours
erecting a six foot fence, who don’t tell you
builders will be drilling on Saturday morning.

Alert and supple as a contortionist,
she can stretch a stilletoed leg to the ceiling,
write her name with the heel.

The other woman can summon fog
out of a clear sky, dilate her pupils
so wide a man will fall in, gratefully.

She’ll try and get into bed with you, too,
lift a corner of your duvet,
to stake a claim on the mattress.

The other woman waits until your parking space
is free, then nips in with her Renault Clio,
the neat boot stuffed with underwear.


Don’t take my name in vain

What makes you think an alphabet will do,
or curls of gold, elaborate calligraphy?

Your hymns, chants, songs, satisfy
only yourselves. Even your science tries

to mimic me. Your stories sanctify
God, Allah, Yahweh,

a line of men you try to conjure
with incense, honour with fasts.

You repeat my name along the chapel
corridor, bow to me five times a day.

You meditate for hours under a beech
tree, light candles incessantly.

Zeus, Buddha, Odin. Every name
you’ve given me is wrong.