Monday, November 23, 2015

Something Thoughtful

Nicholas Reid reflects in essay form on general matters and ideas related to literature, history, popular culture and the arts, or just life in general. Well actually in this section Nicholas Reid writes whatever he damned well pleases.


I knew a man (I really did) who knew a man 
who wrote a novel about yet another man

and the first man didn’t like the novel

the second man wrote about the third man

and the first man wrote a poem about

the second man, although he didn’t use his name,

and often confused him with the third man.

And when he was told off about this

the first man tried some fancy footwork

and pretended he wasn’t attacking the second man

(even though the second man was a colleague

of the first man, and was very crook at the time

the first man wrote his poem)

but was just attacking the sentimentality

of the second man’s story, and besides,

talented poets aren’t held to the same

standards of behaviour as lesser beings

And, fuck me, in his poem the first man

made sure he used the word “fuck”

a number of times to really show

he wasn’t sentimental. “Fuckety-fuckety-fuckety

he went, adding a gratuitous “cunt”

to confirm his wondrous literary skill;

and doctoral students said how ingeniously

he had thus shown the meaninglessness of war,

which was kind of odd because the second man

had actually been to war but the first man hadn’t.
And the first man said how patronising 
the second man was to the fictional, working class 
third man, which again was kind of odd, given that 
the first man made a career out of being patronising.

Anyway the first man didn’t like being criticised

and wrote pompous letters comparing his poem to

MacFlecknoe and the satires of Pope. (A bit like one of

the first man’s acolytes comparing himself

to Dante Alighieri – big ideas some people

have of themselves.) And really it all seemed

a tant-ie from a man who didn’t like people

other than certified agnostics and lapsed Anglicans

in his place of work, and especially didn’t like

the second man because he didn’t fall

into these categories and because (unlike the first man)

he actually got on well with his students,

and didn’t talk about “MY POETRY” when he was

supposed to be lecturing on other things.

It’s all so long ago now, and perhaps you

can thank me for being an unreliable narrator

of all this and showing that I understand

postmodernism (even if the latest pundits say

we are now post-postmodern). But one thing

I am certain of – a gratuitous insult at the end

of a poem proves nothing. It would be as puerile 
and unwarranted as if I were to say that at his age, 
in throwing this Billingsgate, the first man was expressing 
 a primal fear that after all his fuck and cunt bluster,

he was now really mortified by

a small one.

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