Go, little poem


I have said goodbye to the poem.

For a while, a long while, we were not even speaking. After the first energies of our love affair wore off, we grew to hate the sight of each other. Somehow we made up, but it wasn’t the same. Parting was inevitable.

It wasn’t much of a day to be honest. It included queues and stamps and envelopes. There were no guests, and champagne was not popped.

Normal life returned quickly. (There were more queues, but these did not involve poetry). I’d be lying if I said I lay awake thinking about it. I sensed some kind of dull ache in my body, but I put this down to lack of exercise.

Pretty soon I’d forgotten all about it.

Months later there was an envelope. I recognised my writing immediately. The poem has been accepted by someone else. That’s such nice news, I say to the emptiness. I do hope they’ll be happy.

Months after that a magazine flops onto the doormat. In my excitement I cannot find the poem, it has disappeared.

It reappears, not with a scowl, but neither is it smiling. We do not touch. We nod, like acquaintances at a party. I notice the lack of precision in line 6, but I also notice that no one seems to have noticed this. I put the poem down, and go to make tea. Somewhere, I like to think, it carries my likeness. I am not even sure what I mean by this.


  1. Anthony, you have tapped into one of the mysteries of writing – the intimate relationship between the writer and the work. And you’ve tapped it here with your usual wit and insight. Somehow I think that the moment the work – poem, story, novel – stops “belonging” the writer and can be seen as we see old acquaintances with whom we are no longer closely connected, is the moment the work becomes real in the best sense.


  2. I think I would worry if there hadn’t been some minor squabble, published or not. It’s what makes it real. Maybe every poem should be a small family Christmas: build up, blow-out, blowup, enormous throwout, relax, chuckle, joy, but even months later… niggling regrets… until the next.


  3. Yeah, man. it’s weird to send stuff out, it’s weird to get it back, it’s weird to see someone else publishing it. Tomas Transtromer’s poem “Morning Birds” ends with the stanza:

    Fantastic to feel how my poem grows
    while I myself shrink.
    It grows, it takes my place.
    It pushes me aside.
    It throws me out of the nest.
    The poem is ready.


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