Death of a poem


The poem always comes to you
in moments of crisis.

When after the lingering effects of last night’s quarrel,
you’ve settled down peacefully with the morning paper and tea,
the poem always knocks on the door, uninvited,
like a petulant, impatient child
demanding to be let in.

If you choose not to indulge it,
it will always find a way to get in,
through the broken window or a stray drainpipe
on a busy afternoon.

And there it will sit perched
on the mantelpiece or behind the curtain,
like a cat preying upon your guilty conscience.

If you ignore it, it will grow on you,
indignant, remorseless and uncompromising,
stealthily watching you with an uncanny fixity,
waiting to pounce upon you without a warning
during your moment of weakness,
when you’re making love
or slogging it out for the next deadline.

If you might turn to it at last, long neglected,
out of guilt or frustration,
you will search for it, from room to room,
only to find somewhere the dust of a broken limb,
an unmoving jaw or the bloodless tentacles
writhing rhymeless and motionless on the floor.

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