I just fucking hate writing poetry. I hate sitting around listening to artless, inelegant, unpaced poems, typically oriented in talk about relationships, in class. If fiction is where the wilds of human possibility expand out into a never-ending horizon of anywhere, poetry is where the amateur sit to wallow in things that have already happened a thousand fucking times. I don’t like poetry (that’s a lie) and I don’t like writing poetry and I am sullen that poetry was my first major assignment for Creative Writing, the subject I enjoy the most.
My resentment of the form shows, it seems, when I attempt it. My initial mark for my poetry assignment was quite low – barely in what the teacher considered pass territory. It was so awkward and bad that he actually brought a photocopy to the class, to show us all as an exercise – seriously! – in bad work, as what I can only assume he imagined as a serious workshopping effort to ‘fix’ this bad work. We first heard another students’ poem, which he really liked, with its ‘weird energy’ and how he was fond of its comparisons with food and relationships, using imagery that was new to him and idioms he didn’t recognise. Then we moved on to a poem about a crappy morning with a coffee punchline, which he felt had an interesting introduced element in the middle of an Anger Management Therapist, which he loved and even took the opportunity to break out this truly gut-wrenching poem of his own about spousal abuse (which left me feeling awkward).
Then after two poems he liked, the intention was to take my poem out to the woodshed.
When I read it aloud, he looked very confused, and changed his mind. Took the paper, scribbled out my low mark and replaced it with a much higher one. Apparently, he thought, it read better aloud than it read on the paper.
I don’t know what exactly to say about that, but here it is, below the jump.
I think it was for Gordon, whose last name I forget
That we shuffled on the traino standing tall, lips wet
Thinking we were hard and were friends
And sought for a fighter who’d have to contend
With our white crisp shirts, collar and tie
For the thing, with the girl, or with the guy
While we planned how to fight and to brace and to hurt
Tying red jumpers down low round an untucked shirt
“Kick him when he’s down,” I was told as though
We had to learn such wisdom as “You wanna go?”
The word Friend always seemed so strange
A thing I wanted badly but couldn’t arrange
Since we had nothing in common and
Didn’t care about others’ life plans
Just tried to pretend I was normal while
Wondering what type of friend was style
And if friends were something I could fake
Or if from these pieces I had to make
The school pals all normal and good
And God liked us and so we should.
We had Carden, Matt, with his camel-style hair,
Everyone but me already knew him from where
Ever he’d been and I was told he was a great guy
Got along with the others and I don’t know why
Or how he wooed the school beauty
Named Liz and inflicted a duty
To a baby unborn
Bringing the scorn
From a principal who called us all to hear
Just why she was going to be missing mid-year
And Matt laughed and joked about his redheaded win
Called a legend for making those blue tears to swim
And he was as a bloke quite great
So I’m told, and recall through the hate.
Mike and Sam I never quite learned to ‘get’
Since they went to concerts and talked and yet
With girlfriends that were off again and then on
While I tried to ask questions not so foregone
To work out how they seemed so cool and so great
Amongst the red-arse games beer at school and the late
Arrivals with CDs and uniform wrongs
Played guitar, skateboarded, sang songs.
Burned their ties and textbooks the day that they left
And for the life of me, I’ve not missed them yet.
At the last came big fat Craig who wasn’t so proud
Of his body shape and had issues and was loud
But don’t you dare call him fat
If you were smaller or he’d flat
Ten you right out and say you deserved it
Remembered him as a bully, not pervert
When I saw him on the front page
For gigs of pornography (underage)
With his huge form thudding into mine
Unprovoked, air lost in a whine
And a keening gasp that sent me to doc
Tor visits while I recovered from shock
We stood at the station with anger a-swilling
Convinced of our rightness, ready and willing
Until the rattling creak of the crossing sign
And the hooting of bells of a train on the line
Deciding that well, I haven’t seen him yet
And missing this train means we won’t get
Home for another hour with my mum
Making dinner and my still-sore bum
From the soccer at lunch so how
About we go home and for now
He got off so easy because he shoulda
Know what six private schoolboys woulda.