Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Poem that Failed


I dig this out because it's late. We have just come back from the Michael Frayn event at UEA and there are things to think about tomorrow This might fill a space. It's an old squib in response to a magazine's general invitation to submit, the invitation carrying the following warning:

XYZ will accept no poems about cats, funerals, churches, the Holocaust or disasters seen only on television.

I thought this, on the whole, fair enough but wondered whether I could write a poem that could break all the rules at once.


BURYING A CAT
ON THE DAY PICTURES OF THE BELARUSSIAN EARTHQUAKE
WERE BROADCAST ON THE NINE O’CLOCK NEWS

I leant on a cathedral wall and saw
the little box descend into cold earth.
The soil was hard, the winter wind was raw,
blowing for all it was worth.

I stood and thought of others who had died,
their screaming faces transfixed on the screen,
a few by hunger, some by suicide,
some in between.

A Polish nurse in a field hospital
who’d starved and suffered in the Nazi camps
told me a story I can’t now recall.

Her wisdom warmed me while I thought of puss
and watched the evening lighting all its lamps
from English Adlestrop to Belarus.

Trying to ring all the wrong bells there. Some at least. I thought it worth doing but I didn't send it. It's nothing special. Think of it as a semi coherent remark.



5 comments:

Poet in Residence said...

I've stopped. Well, almost.

I've sent only 2 poems this year.
One to an anthology of Love Poems (acceptance) and the other to a free to enter John Lennon Memorial Poetry Contest (awaiting result).

There are many reasons and you've highlighted one of them. What really finished it for me was when I sent a poem to a religious magazine and there came the reply - yes, they would like to publish it but only would do so if I subscribed. Funny, I thought, there was no mention of that pre-condition in their 'rules'. Needless to say I immediately withdrew the poem.
Now, I put all my poems my blog and get 2,500 readers a month.

Billy C said...

Perhaps I'm just a simple fella, George, but I really liked the poem.

Vincent said...

I wish you would still send it to the mag. I really liked it too, though my endorsement hardly counts for much, if counting counts.

Kilian said...

I thought this extremely funny - especially the holocaust non-sequitur - and touching too. It certainly deserves to win a prize of some sort.

George S said...

That mag - The Printer's Devil - has, I think, ceased publication, Vincent. It appeared in the mid-90s. You should be able to date it by the Belarussian earthquake, unless I've made that up.

Sending out poems is the devil, in another sense, Gwilym.