The Run In
So, I went to the reading in a sheepish mood, the aching secret that I felt everyone could blatantly recognize, approximating a disfiguring disease, was in my bag where i had stashed the sheets of embarrassment which were tormenting me with their indecision; would they see the light of day - or rather the eyes of the poet - or not? The papers exuded an atomic radiation of shame which was probably what was causing my cheeks to flush, even though I knew they were tightly squirrelled away. Why didnt i bring that lead lined duffel? It was crazy to be this way, I knew they’d stay there, hidden, unseen, unless a strange force overtook me, either that or they sold booze in this, stuck-up-their-own-arse, bookshop. I barely heard a word of the poems I loved so dearly - so obsessed was I with what would happen, how I would feel, as I shuffled forwards and popped out of the queue to meet the great man himself. And in that totally inexplicable way that, through quantum mechanics or otherwise, time warps by the force of human stress alone, here I was, right eye to fucking eye with him. His soft, but dour face looked quizzical - ‘No book to sign laddie?’ he asked, even making that sound poetic, damn him. ‘Or do you have some poems to show me in that wee satchel you’re wringing the neck of?’ The final humiliation. Should I deny or reach into the side-strung quagmire of despair and pull the wretched scribbles out, take it like a man for the first time in my entire life? ‘ I’m sorry ‘ his warm voice, softer now, offered. ‘ you see I never look at people’s poems at these things. It’s a lose, lose for me. If your poems are shite then you’ll hate me for being mean spirited and arrogant. If they’re the best thing I’ve ever read you’ll never believe me, or surrender all that respect that, perhaps, you’ve mistakenly nurtured for me over my, frankly, overestimated career - if you can call being a poet an employment. But I've never been much of a man. I wordlessly turned on my heels and ran, with a vigour rivalling the ignominy. And the effort, wouldn't you guess it, dislodged a single sheet of the sheaf, which the guy cleaning up after the event assumed to belong to the bard himself placing it back amongst his precious paraphernalia where six months later he stumbled across it and wonder how on earth he was capable of such utter mediocrity. The wretched guy turned it into a poem. Why wouldn’t he? No doubt, right now, he’s making a jokey quip in his spiel of an intro, reeling the crowd in with his trademark humour and charm using me as a punching bag - not that he even knows who i am, or that it was me who gifted him this. But i guess we have something in common now aside from the ignorance - we both have got a poem from the run in.
Falmouth, Cornwall, 2011. Zeiss Nettar
St.Pancras, London, 2007. Pentax on Six TL
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