On (not) Writing

For Liz Stanley – who was right (sort of).


‘Remember to write whilst working down there.’

You’re wilting already under her Basilisk stare,

‘Bang out an article whilst you sit on the plane,

Bang out more articles you’re halfway to fame’.


For five years you lectured, marked essays and read,

But those infamous articles all stayed in your head.

No dazzling writing giving you a great name –

Yet another example of your inferior brain.


You finally stopped commuting nearly nine months ago,

You were aching with tiredness which you never did show.

You’d slept in Youth Hostels with the Spanish and Dutch,

Teaching relentlessly and drinking too much.


Your smile was too brittle, your laughter too forced,

You were singing and dancing like a mad circus horse.

You’d wake up with headaches jaw clenched far too tight,

You felt permanently diminished, in fact you felt shite.


So you made a decision: go home and be bored.

You’d sleep in your own bed – no more strangers who snored,

No more endlessly flying, no more voice in your head:

‘Bang out those articles, bang them out like I said.’


You sat at your kitchen table, it was tedious as fuck,

You tried writing those articles but your writing it sucked.

So dry and indifferent, you just didn’t care,

Till one day your Muse came and suddenly you dared…


Now you are writing but it’s the wrong kind of stuff,

Poetry isn’t REFable – when it rhymes it’s just fluff,

But somehow this matters much less than it should,

You’re just glad that you’re writing, even when it’s no good.

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