By Franz Andres Morrissey
This is the poem that didn’t work out.
I’d had this idea that it would be about
Dionysos, wine, bacchanalian chant,
Greek myth with a light, contemporary slant.
Nymphs cavorted in couplets, already well-versed,
But, somehow, it seems the whole thing was cursed:
I sat down to write while the inspiration was strong
and the house was still quiet. It wasn’t for long.
The youngest had something that broached no delay
And wouldn’t listen to reason till he’d had his say.
Then the postbox needed checking, did I have the key?
And the telephone rang; it wasn’t for me.
Then the dog went ballistic. Someone hoovered the floor.
A plug needed fixing. Someone at the door.
A CD not working; could I please clean it?
The sellotape missing; no, I hadn’t seen it.
The pile of old paper I promised to shift.
The lad wanting a snack, the girls wanting a lift
There was the search for the tortoise-shell kitten.
So that’s why this poem never got written.
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At Christmas time we like to eat
And it is a real treat
to have someone round for dinner.
It makes for a better party
And the feast is much more hearty
than if you’ve someone who is thinner.
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I’m your quintessential been-there-done-that kind of character
and I’ve got the pile of T-shirts to prove it.
I’ve played the game so often
the collection of worthless candles would last
I’ve walked into it so many times with my eyes wide shut
that I’ve been awarded the honorary white cane.
I’ve seen more doors closed in my face
than a travelling salesman
trying to flog solar-powered nightlights
And I could tell you more stories about the one that got away
than any luckless angler
trying to explain the success of
another rainy Sunday afternoon outing
to his spouse
this time it had better be different.
I want to feel the wind in my hair
as we speed along the Strand or across the Golden Gate Bridge
in an E-type Jag with the top down,
I want fireworks-illuminated gourmet dinners
and rumpled-silksheet champagne breakfasts,
I want the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields
to serenade us to sleep with Eine kleine Nachtmusik and
Oasis, unplugged, to wake us with a medley from
What’s the Story, Morning Glory the following noon,
I want bathtubs full of bubbly,
endless backrubs and foot massages
and then to be dressed in the finest of fineries
from London Paris Tokio and New York
I want to lounge on lone beaches,
my skin oiled by scantily clad locals,
and watch sunsets that look like photographic wallpaper,
I want jugglers and lion tamers and stars of stage and screen
to leap into action at the first twitch of boredom,
I want armadas of ships and boats firing 21-shot salutes
giving it all they’ve got, from
pop-guns to missile launchers,
I want the earth to move,
tidal waves to engulf coast lines
and the night to explode into a skyful of shooting stars
you’ll let me buy you a burger,
vegetarian, if you like.
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The honey acidity of the onions,
the sea-salt tang of the celery,
the sweetnesses of the carrots and the tomatoes,
unfolding in olive oil,
softening with the soaked beans
then melding into the broth,
fill the place with a smell
that is so nearly like mother’s bean soup
that she cooked on damp winter evenings,
perhaps to rekindle summers
on sun-dried Peloponnesian hillsides
or her mother’s kitchen in the shade of Taygetos.
The draining, chopping, slicing, stirring
helps to forget for a time
that you will eat perhaps two mouthfuls
and, limbering up to the second one,
will have to rally your strength
never tiring of commending me
for making fasolada
just like mother’s.
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So was it –?
A lot later than would have been wise.
How did I –?
The cabbie wasn’t keen but the extra ten quid helped.
But I wasn’t –?
Not until we got out, thank God,
you’ll need to pay for the damage to the flowerbed, though.
So I must have been pretty –?
That would not be overstating the case.
How did everybody –?
They tried to ignore it as best they could but then…
I didn’t, did I –?
All twenty verses with chorus
and, where inappropriate, the actions as well.
And was –?
Obviously as you’d urged her to come.
She didn’t seem to enjoy it very much.
So you reckon I needn’t –?
Not for the next couple of decades, I don’t think.
Oh God, what can I –?
How about exploring
job openings in the Outer Hebrides?
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‘The reading by Franz Andres Morrissey at NAWE’s Writers and Location conference at St. Mary’s College in West London on Friday 30th April was, in turn, both funny and moving – a very successful combination. This is positive, life-celebrating poetry, whether about family, relationships, or the quirks of language that can make the business of communication a mine-field or a delight. Franz is also a lively and imaginative workshop leader.’
– Robyn Bolam, Professor Creative and Professional Writing, St. Mary’s University College