I’ve got this thing about writing poems in answer to someone else’s poem. I was really pleased with the Robert Frost one I put up recently – in fact I was so smugly happy with it, I didn’t write a word for six weeks afterwards. I was starting to get that sinking feeling ( That’s it. You’re done. You will never write anything decent again…you’re old…you’re going funny…) I couldn’t find a way in. Anything I started looked dull, banal
When this happens ( and it does not infrequently) I look back at my recent stuff. Medieval saint- done that. Alan Bennett-ish jolly piece on sex orgy- done that.Why not write about the geese ? Done a piece on the lake and anyway, I’m knee deep in poems about geese.
And then I remembered a poem by Henry Reed which I’ve loved for years. It’s about his weapons training at the start of the second world war. He’s being lectured by a sergeant about the different parts of a rifle and at the same time, he’s looking through the window at the artless elegance of spring flowers.I couldn’t dream of matching that.
Then I remembered my new smartphone (Smart ? It’s stupid and small and neurotic and it hates me. It is surly and rude and cuts me off when I’m talking to people.) And I started to wonder onto paper.
I make no great claims for this. It’s not deep or profound.Your soul will not be touched. But maybe, hopefully, it will make you smile.
Henry Reed’s new smartphone
Today we have Making A Start. Yesterday
We had Taking It Out Of The Box and tomorrow
We shall have Disposal of Packaging.
But today we have Making A Start.
This is the ON button. It can be depressed
By the thumb. You can do it quite easily
If you have any strength in your thumb
So do not let me see any of you
Using their finger.
Leaves shiver and rustle
In all of the neighbouring gardens,
Never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.
This as you see is the keyboard.
It is small, as you can see.
If you are not too banana-fingered
You can ring up your friends at times
Inconvenient to them and exchange pleasantries.
R snd thm txts.
Outside the trees
Semaphore autumn to a fading sky.
It is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb,
Like the ring tone,the screen saver, the voice search,
The 500 minutes+free texts +all the data you can eat,
Which, in my case, I have not got.
Perhaps my thumb is weak.
Beyond the window, geese
Call to each other in the sooty dark.
By the way, if you want to look at the Reed poem, you can find it here: