When my dad hears I’ve been booked for a poetry gig
my dad says,
“well at least put some music in there
if I’ve already told my friends”,
and maybe I should,
but whenever I do
it gives me too much to concentrate on
and when I’m thinking there’s always much more
of a chance that something somewhere will go wrong.
So how about I only go half the way?
How about I throw in some nervous humming
against the creaks of chairs whose passengers
want to leave but they don’t know if they should just yet,
because they think, “this poet might just get good, any second now,
and our coffee’s still hot
and maybe we missed something anyway
because we couldn’t work out if he was trying to be fashionable
or popular thrift store, like Macklemore”
But now 15 seconds have slipped by and I’m still humming
a choice selection of notes, all of them friends
who bunch together tightly and know each other so well
that at most times, to the untrained ear,
you couldn’t really tell them apart,
just that every now and then one seemed a lot more tense than the other.
Let’s call them the Rat Pack,
and with a name like that
they spread out and push their shoulders back
and start to swagger around my vocal chords,
and if only I could beat box right now
I could pull out my best Rahzel
and swiftly swoon and wow the crowd with
Biff Your Cover Bonely Que,
but I can’t and my nerves are rattling
so I settle for a gentle foot tap
against an old wooden floor that’s hiding
a thousand corpses of conversations drowned in coffee beans
spilt from lovers coffee cups and then wiped
from the table to forever stain the floor.
My foot taps carelessly on broken promises
and crazily caffeinated brand new ideas which might just change the world
if only Sony hadn’t invented the Playstation,
and Ikea didn’t sell cheap sofas,
and Tettley hadn’t found a way of making tea bags
taste kind of OK with hard southern water,
not that my mum would ever agree.
But now 20 seconds have past and still no poem,
and the first one went OK I think, so I should’ve just dived right into the next
rather than sink into not this uncomfortable sludge,
this one went more like Failure suddenly finding both an identity and a ghost
and shoving each one
into my pockets for my hands to wrestle with
so nobody ever sees the truth.
My hands stay stuffed in my pockets,
each one holding down a devil of doubt
and I absolutely know I’d look more comfortable if I bought my hands into plain view,
but believe me
can’t see me for the devils that chase me.
so there I am,
possessed by a drunk Rat Pack reunited with no talent and only memories of dusty
my foot ruthlessly kicking up the dust of stories best left undisturbed
and my hands fruitlessly choking the necks of two demons
knowing full well they don’t need air to breathe.
Next time I won’t be so quick to put music into my poetry set.