Poetry ignites the cogs of my imagination
In a way I forgot was possible.
I love to write in irregular verse,
But I lost my way a long time ago.
Poems that don’t rhyme were my specialty
As a child. I remember on the last day of term
Just before Christmas, probably in 1988,
My cigar-breathed teacher Mr. Barnes set the class an assignment –
Write a poem about Christmas.
(It might have been 1986.
He was my teacher in second-year and fourth-year juniors,
At my fifties built prefab school in East Herts,
It even had a small and hellishly cold outdoor swimming pool!)
So either at the age of nine or eleven,
I took my holiday assignment very seriously;
And waiting very patiently for inspiration
Just after a luxurious dinner on Christmas day:
A quite loud argument was brewing
Between my father and my granddad.
I don’t remember much about it at all.
It had something to do with hand grenades:
Ones used during the second world war,
And how many seconds it would take for them to detonate.
I was on the side of my granddad,
He being more knowledgeable on this matter, in my view.
Granddad had gone on a lot of long walks
Over unforgiving terrain
As an Army Officer in Burma
In the early nineteen-forties.
I didn’t dismiss my father’s arguments though,
When not working hard he sat in his armchair reading
His daily or Sunday Express, and slaving over crosswords.
There were plenty of digestible books on the shelves too,
Daddy was no fool.
I started writing down words
As their war of words settled into peacetime quarrels
And I roughly wrote down my thoughts.
Later on, I got hold of my trusted penguin thesaurus
And discovered grown-up words to replace my childish ones.
A short poem with no intentional rhymes,
Describing the family Christmas argument
In the form of a tennis match with no umpire,
It was entitled ‘Christmas Noise’
I think the poem is lost forever,
but I remember the last line now
It was, and still is:
‘I love Christmas noise!’