Gimme a Break

by Robin Archbold

DON'T you just hate it when someone gets up at a poetry event
And introduces their poem, casual as you like, with
''I just scribbled this down on the back of a drinks coaster before I got up''
And then
Delivers a gripping, poignant, darkly humorous, perfectly nuanced
performance
Of a brilliant piece of writing?

Or

''I just cobbled together this nonsense in the car on the way over here''
And it's night outside so they’ve done it in the dark
And then
Does the same bloody thing?

Puh-lease

They are either
Lying
Or
Have been chauffer-driven from Patagonia
In a luxury motor home
Dropping in at a few tropical live-in writers retreats
With a personal peptalk and firewalk with Tony Robbins
A private blessing from the Dalai Lama
A brief but spiritually candescent love tryst with the illegitimate son of
Jack Kerouac
Ken Kesey or Alan Ginsberg -- nobody's sure which but it was definitely one
of them
So something must have rubbed off
Or on
Followed by a three-week intensive masterclass at the Lee Strasberg Method
Acting Studio
In New York
Before pulling up outside the poetry venue
I mean, you gotta allow at least three months for that
Probably six

Because the alternative is unthinkable for us normal poets
Agonising in the small, wee hours preferred by people who commit suicide
Draw your own conclusions

And then
Learning the bloody things
Sure, sure
They look like they're reading off the paper
But they've learned it
Probably in the six months, maybe eight, it took to get here from Patagonia

And you know why the alternative is unthinkable?

Because it means they are brilliant
Far more brilliant than we can ever be
We are crushed
We are going to despise them
We would like to . . . eliminate them
Hunt them down and destroy them like the vermin they are
'tho we'll never show it because we're poets
And way too cool for that
But they'll feel it

Most of all
We hate them because we would kill to write a poem like that
No matter how long it took

Or -- alternate ending for the less squeamish

Most of all
We hate them because they are tossers
And the poem wasn't that good anyway
Bit rushed I reckon

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