They all looked so new. If this had been paper, it would have turned yellow, be covered in beer, wine, cigarette ash, over illegible hand writing. But here on the computer the document of my poetry looked as if it was written yesterday, all clear and shiny. I had enough to wrap around the Eiffel Tower twice. Almost 40 years of writing and what have I got to show for it? Nothing, I didn’t even make a splitter in the literary scene. I had had a couple published in an underground magazine with a readership of just me. Published a few books myself, which I had to give away on the streets before they turned yellow to reluctant passers-by who handled it as if it was soiled toilet paper. I had my own poetry page on Facebook, in which with excitement I would unleash one of my gems to an unsuspecting world every few days receiving numerous likes by myself. At the height I had a few followers, to say the amount would only depress me. My YouTube channel likewise consisting of my reading and arty videos saw its last follower drop off last week. What’s wrong with these people ? My best friend, all be it very drunk, said I was a class poet. In the morning he said, with his eyes to the ground, that he can’t remember saying it. But it must be true. All my youthful dreams were now over, I was in my mid 60s and the curtain call would sooner or later come.
In my alcoholic state and with a bouquet of failed marriages behind me, I sit in this stinking bedsit, which doesn’t even have room for a bed. Seething with anger at the screen, third or fourth rate poets I know publishing work after work with major publishers. Each Facebook post starting with some sugar filled shit. “I’m pleased to announce” or “It’s with delight that my next book” blah blah. YouTube followers in the tens of thousands, with me having shot my last one.
They should listen, but I couldn’t force people to wake up, could I? Maybe a mild bit of criminality might help, ends justify the means as Che Guevara, Lenin said and did .
I started with a rather small publication, found out the names of the editors, their children and partners (easy to find with the net) and added a little lie on top.
I decided to send one of my early gems, Seasons.
“In June the flowers come out
Grey and white
In winter the branches snap”
It carries on in this beautiful way.
Dear blah blah blah please publish “Seasons” give my regard to blah and your children (names). A mutual friend told me about your secret, I do hope it remains so…
Best wishes —
I posted it and lo and behold, there it was in the following edition, nothing added to it, just my name and the poem.
I did this with a further three and hey, presto same result. Everyone has a secret they don’t want to come out, I thought.
I then went for the big time, the major publication house in the country. I Included a batch of my best poems. I was giddy with excitement. 4 publications in two months, now the stardom I’d dreamt of. I could dust off those TV interviews I’d imagined in detail so long in my head and know it would become reality, but nothing.
I’d even included my latest poems
“Iron is made hot it bends
To make object
Like a kettle or a jug”
This is brilliant like Van Gogh or Tolstoy describing simple things in a powerful form. Idiots.
I waited a further two weeks then sent a gentle reminder with the names of their children’s school and a note saying that I was trying to stop our mutual friend telling their secret to the police .
Still nothing. I was crazed wild.
I put some white power in a bag with the words “Next time it will be real.”
Still nothing. Then there was not a knock at the door, the police entered. “Are you the poet —” they said my name. “Yes.” I imagined they would be escorting me to a television studio.
“Are these yours?”
“Yes, but I can explain, people need to be woken up to my greatness, look at this, read it.” I had a captive audience. He looked at it and threw it on the ground.
I pleaded guilty representing myself dressed like Oscar Wilde, my audience filled the court room hanging on my every word. To each question, I read one of my poems staring directly into the court camera. The audience was silent staring at the floor, they couldn’t believe the beauty they were hearing. I was sentenced for something or other. In a flash my Facebook and YouTube channel shot up in views. I’d made it. I picked up a newspaper with the headline:
“The World’s Worst Poet is Jailed”
Members of the court reporting abdominal pains after my reading and some had been physically sick in the room.
Oh well, you can’t have everything. 19,000 hits on my poem “Seasons.” That’s all that matters.