The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique

I’ve nothing new so here’s an old one, my first one, from over 40 years ago. 

I shall measure out my life
with spoonfuls of borrowed ideas
and with a pretence of knowing
about this and that and poetry.
Just tell me the ingredients of a good poem
and I shall have a go at writing one.
And tell me the right form and shape
so that it looks right on the page,
and I will knock it about a bit 
so that the lines end at the right place.
Meanwhile, once more creeps on me the urge
to write and churn it out like this: 

      The jolly verse that off my tongue doth trip
      Maketh all the girls’  hearts to dance and skip…  

But who has powers these days to sit and rhyme?
Sitting and rhyming we lay waste our time.
Or perhaps I’ll try another tack: 
      On woeful jazz-days like this
      I stand and stare and cannot piss… 
Write like this and they’ll throw it back.
‘Ere, why don’t I try a little nonsense spoof?
      It’s late, the cats are howling on the roof,
      My husband will not be home tonight…
No, this won’t do, the subject’s too trite!
What if I hold a short idea between my teeth
like elastic and pull?
      Yes but, how far? How far?    
      Far enough’s too frightening,
      Far far too frightening,
      Far far too Pascalian, much too far to
      It’s a long way to when will I ever …
Write like this and the answer’s never!
Well, at least I’m on my guard against self-deceit,
ever since a man did accost me in the street,
and he did insult me with no uncertain greet
ing, and ready, I, to go on my
thought how oft doth wisdom cry
out int strasse, a nasty sod he called me und
so me geschtoppt und listund

he said “Write no tripe in cryptic lang
uage and eschew
                          lousy lines
                                         that just
together in sepulchral sound
sjust knocked around.”




© Nemo 2023
Views: 2171
critique and comments welcome.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

It stands the test of time, mate. Love the construction, love the premis, love the self-deprecating nature of the piece.
So, so good on so many levels….


Enjoyable read. with lots of tricks of rhyme and layout. My only mild comment would be there are a couple of phrases like ‘no uncertain greet’ ‘Creeps on me the urge’ that I think could be tidied up into normal language.


Great to read your work again, this is excellent Gerald.

Flag Content