Maple Dewleaf

When I was at college at sixteen
My favourite poet was Dryden
‘MacFlecknoe’ was rude
Johnny wasn’t a prude
Like that ‘Paradise Lost’ bloke, the blind one.

At eighteen I bought lots of records
Bob Dylan was my superhero
‘Hard Rain’ was a bastard
and that’s why it lasted
Those Faber fucks couldn’t come near-o.

Back then all the libraries had books in
Not playgrounds and tables for coffee
I found Allen and Jack
On a shelf at the back
And the last flakes of normal fell off me.

My reading, though, took me down alleys
That some of you good folk have questioned.
I liked Ezra Pound
Though his views were unsound
If not crazy (and that’s why the Section).

When the internet came I met writers
Who were working all over the planet
Wild Bill, Church and Speer
Weber, Baatz and Vermeer
(Yes, I threw in a painter to scan it.)

Their stuff told me how to dump caution
And be me with invention and guts
Once I knew about them
I wrote gem after gem
And our brittle Brit bull drove me nuts

Then I found myself back in a classroom
Learning writing to stay off the dole.
The professor was keen
That he ought to be seen
As eccentric, and acted the role.

His own poems were snoringly average
He never took risks and it showed
He was all surfaces
Like the middle class is
You were writing to lighten his load.

So you couldn’t be heavy or complex
Or he’d put you down there in the room
Then he’d give you a C
While your friend got a B
For a thing about dogs and balloons.

Round the corner from my house a bloke lives
He’s a poet, though he’d never say
He performs what he writes
On his Drum & Bass nights
And they rhyme, and they sound like today.


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