The poem I should have written basked in safety, made you spread your arms to enfold me. An old friend. That poem would be held to your warmth in comfort, secure in the knowledge we posed no threat, to you. Your narrow world view. Your careful ambition.
The poet of the poem I should have written was your favourite. Firmly in the black and white of your corner, unlike me with my shades of grey. Part of the tribe, not going to challenge any part of your familiar routine, try to shake things up, change the world.
The poem I should have written would have sold millions of books to sit in shelves, adorn greetings cards, be quoted at weddings, funerals and wherever you need something suitably generic – universal.
The poem I should have written would have won me plaudits from a million accounts on social media – not all of them bots.
That is the poem I should have written. Did I write it? No. Will I try again tomorrow? Probably. Will I succeed? Unlikely.
I am not a fan of the poem I should have written. That is unfortunate. The words of the world are too harsh on my tongue. My pen cannot speak them with conviction.
My rough edges cut through the soft wooliness of emotional panacea. Claws and beak eroding the security blanket over my cage. I struggle to stop myself from fighting the oblivion of sleep.
The poem I should have written eludes me. It would cost me something to knuckle down and write that poem. Someone else can do it. I don’t mind. They can take the fame and fortune.
I will stick to this corner of obscurity. Keep scribbling my own perceived truths. Find something that whispers to me in the dark. Until I roll over and reach for my pen. Sharp and subjective.
Stomping the park puddles
Familiar green shapes
Formed from crude oil
As if forged from the
Fossilized bones of
Long dead ancestors
As protectors of
Through marshy ground
Wild as once before
Roaring early displeasure
At competition for
A chance to slide
Young pitted against young
Tooth and claw
Fighting to be first
A miracle of lights and lies
Lies hidden deep within your eyes
Eyes that of nature were not borne
Born to rail and scold and scorn
Scorn one who loves you ever so
So much she cannot let you go
Go tear a heart from one whose beats
Beat strongly yet enough to weep.
Give me strength, my father cried
I as a child, of course, complied,
And to his will, this willow bent,
Not understanding discontent.
But now I’m grown, his mood I ken,
I ‘get’ the strops of gentle men:
Dissatisfied with what they’ve got
Yet little work to change their lot.
I hope in future my own kin
Will know enough, not let me win,
But challenge me in time of need
And push to overcome my greed.
I know myself, I know my power,
Yet hope my kids upon their hour
Of struggle, mine will overcome
That they may triumph, have some fun.
And in old age, their wisdom find,
Choosing then to know their mind.
Not seeking ever-young to stay,
But give the youth their precious day.