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.
The loud purring Of a sensitive soul Rumbles across my lap A gentleman-mouser Whose claws are rarely Sheathed in my flesh Save for those few Accidental motions. He pauses in his Hypnotic kneading Of careful paws Twitches a whisker Opens a lazy eye We are content Devoted Familiar and Current Provider of ear-scratches Precious moments spent together Do not last as long As they once did Those rare islands Of near-silence I try to spend Writing. Such a distraction Is sadly unacceptable In company My failure to stroke Soft furry egos While fingers Play over lettered keys And coffee cools At a careless elbow Lead to gentle taps Polite, then more insistent I frown and mutter Trying to shake loose Some old ideas From new forehead creases Transmit them to my dusty screen Before the next Set of demands is issued By the charming pout Of the other House Tyrant Whose three-year-reign Continues to sway The working lives Of all her subjects. It is not enough. I cannot please all Of my many masters Not this day. As gentle snores fade to yawns I sift through the tired Dog-eared card catalogue Housed temporarily for safekeeping Within my rapidly emptying skull Brain cycling faster The vocalisation Begins in earnest Close behind my ear “Miaouw!” He is starting to insist “Pssst! Shush!” It is a futile gesture To try to silence An old friend The search continues There are paws on my shoulder Tapping, prodding A hint of sharpness A gentle shove Hot breath on my neck Can I find a verbal noun, Subclause, or synonym To convey my sense Of panic at the first stirrings Of any sleeping creature Under four feet But still a giant? Too late. “Mummy!” I hiss my discomfort At the sudden perforation Of my thigh. Time’s up once again.