FAITH IN POETRY
The best poetry is of its time
Or marginally ahead of it, and so is ready-made
For a reader as modern as the poetry
He or she reads. And when you read
My letter, the poem I may never send,
But if I do, and you read it,
I will be far away on the other side of the world.
It is impossible to be further from you than this.
My coat has lots of secret pockets,
And I am wary of leaning upon anyone
In case it gets dirty. One should try and be,
It appears, in a constant state of happiness with oneself.
And if my house were about to be bulldozed
It would be okay. That'd be me,
Standing around with everyone else
And envying the demolition crew their work.
They're a bunch of the jolliest men.
We're all envying someone at the moment
Because although what we have we want it
We might want something else more. Why
Not? The world is full of everything.
To reject can be a sign of strength. I really like
My coat, and any example of extraordinary architecture
That leaves us gasping with awe, admiration.
Today was filled with more sunlight than we thought possible,
And a sense of our own adequacies tied
Inevitably to a sense of our enormous and great potential.
It takes years to get to be this clever.
Martin Stannard says such things
In his thoughtless and spare time. It takes
No effort. Is it easier to be upside down and sincere
And faithful than runaway and deceitful? I'm not sure
I ever cancelled a project because the other party
Didn't come through with their part of the deal.
My coat has loads of secret pockets,
And in each one is a poem that will some day
Be finished, perhaps. Thoughts are slowly cohering
In my head. If I ever get around to it (if he can
Find your address after all these months,
If he can drag himself around the corner
To the Post Office to buy a stamp and forego
His afternoon session on the sleeping couch,
If he can muster his little brittle enthusiasm)
I will send them to you, each of them to you,
And will be far away when you read them.
But it is impossible to be further away than this.
Poetry is a tree. It has leaves and branches,
Sometimes it's full of birds, and if it's raining
You can stand underneath and be sheltered,
Unless it's thunder and lightning
Then you can be electrocuted to death.
If you have a death may it be spark-filled and bright.
Poetry is also the home of honesty and lies
And like a happy life is something to believe in.
Martin Stannard learned that one day in a pub,
And a pub is like a school, only more fun.
You believed for a while, then it was confirmed
By lawyers. I fell for it for half my life
Then I married and swallowed it whole.
You were hoodwinked for quite
A long time, then went and studied
Law. We had thought it was all true but it wasn't.
You said you had a handle on it, as if it were a drawer.
I cannot help but recall in the airport
How I had been in the middle of writing
A poem I was intending to call 'Scenes From Life'
Then suddenly you were there, and I was distracted.
Somehow I have never recovered from that distraction.
My coat has several secret pockets,
And there is a chocolate bar in almost all of them.
If ever we were sacked and burned
As Alexander sacked and burned Persepolis
We'd be terribly pissed off, but I don't think you
Or I could be further apart than this, not
That I wish to pursue the analogy, as such.
I don't know if every day should start
With a smile or an explosion of laughter.
Martin Stannard, who people think is made of iron,
Is beginning to be happy if he can get out of bed
At the first attempt. Usually he's been dreaming
Of a collaborative poem, and he is always
Collaborating with the same person.
When you read this he will be on the other side
Of the world, having a haircut. If he sent the letters
And poems he has been composing continuously
Since you went home you will know his mind.
You may even have it, because he seems to have
Mislaid it. The broken window is letting in
Light, which strikes me as not a miracle.
Speech does not always come naturally to me.
Once I was with you and there was nothing
I could say that would calm you, appease you,
Make your life better than it was. And all I wanted
Was to make your life better than it was. As good
As it could be. It turned out not to be my role.
My coat has one thousand secret pockets,
And if I turn each of them inside out
My whole world, including loads of commas
And some letters I planned to write to you,
Falls to the floor. It falls to the bloody floor.
Please allow me to say this: I miss everything.
So I'm flying to the other side of the world to look for it.
And I'm taking with me my book of jokes.
Sometimes I think I am that chap from mythology,
Half-animal, half-man. Yes, Buffalo Bill.
I phoned my mum and dad. One of them
Is learning to dance because they forgot to do it
When they were younger. The other one is taking
Lessons from a trapeze artist. I don't remember
Which is which, but it makes no difference.
I look at them, and I become even more bewildered
Than I was before. So I don't
Think, except about some things to make me happy.
Here's a list of some things that make me happy:
Yeah, right. I just doodled some rubbish. It was pleasing.
I was thinking, at first, of someone I knew, then an octopus,
Then a kind of vehicle for getting away from it all
But it didn't work out. Anyways,
It's been a nice day. I read a nice poem.
I had a nice chat with Nicola. Lunch was nice.
Tea will probably be nice, if I concentrate
When I prepare it. Terry said something nice
But I don't remember what it was. I hope
You are having a nice time, wherever you are.
I've been working on 'Scenes From Life'.
It's going to be good, and really realistic.
The point of poetry, so far as I can see, is
It has no point except itself. I have nothing I want to say
To anyone (except you, and I am writing you
A letter) and I have no news to report,
No fresh information to impart. This is not a mirror,
And does not reflect. This is not a mind, and
It is not thinking. It is too fuddled and drunk for that.
When a metaphor saunters into the room
And demands space on the sofa, that's when
You know it's time to call it a day. A nice one,
But one that should be drawn to a close, like curtains.
As for counting syllables, count me out.
My sprawl is neither urgent nor special. Poetry changes
As time moves, which is not the same as adapting
To suit a modern or a friendly readership. Just because
You are alive at the same time as me doesn't mean
We have anything in common beyond the happiness.
I want to be alone, and I will be. Hey, I already are!
And I thought the finest prayer goes unheard because
Nobody is listening to it. This is no reason to be
Unhappy. Chocolate bars will always be. The best poetry
Will always be ahead of the game,
Not lolloping along in its wake. And it goes
Unheard, because nobody is listening to it.
When you get the letters and the poems I write for you
I will be far away on the other side of the world, but
It's impossible to be further from you than I am already.
I sort of believe in you, though, because I can't stop.
© Martin Stannard 2005