TWELVE KINDS OF POEM

from George Szirtes…

1. There are poems one feels a certain satisfaction in solving, but then the clues vanish in the snow and the rest is faultless snow.

2. There are poems that skip around like stoned goats: now you see me, now you don’t. Zap. Zowie. They come on goat feet and are goats.

3. There are poems with pain in their eyes. They haven’t slept for months. They need you. They are extraordinarily grateful to have found you.

4. There are poems with wrinkled brows and slow, hesitant hands. They point at sky, water, earth and suggest you kneel and pray with them.

5. There are poems that bare their painted breasts. These are my breasts, they declare! I painted them myself. I am proud, you hear. Proud!

6. There are poems so drunk on language they keep tripping over. That’s the point, you fool, they declare as they spill another drink over you.

7. There are poems that pretend they’re not poems. They smile ironically and ask: Did you think I was a poem? I am, but not the way you think.

8. There are poems that are genuinely angry. They grimace, snarl and threaten, but they’re awfully pally once you get to know them.

9. There are poems so quiet, so dreamlike, so full of whispers you think they are actually the ghosts of other poems lurking behind them.

10. There are poems so desperate for you to like them they keep offering you bouquets as though you had earned them. You haven’t.

11. There are poems that are spectacular disasters. They are very expensive. The sets are wonderful. It’s the make-up artists who win the Oscars.

12. There are poems that address you as though you were in a lecture theatre. They lose patience with you and throw their lecture notes at you. You lose them.

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