the essay

What is poetry?

Said the page

Black ink sinking squid juice into bleached fibres of fallen trees to type the phrase

Trite and clichéd

but it amazed me none the less

What is poetry?

Is it just ancient verses rehearsed by avid fanatics of Whitman, Shakespeare and Frost?

A talent lost to the dead

Frozen solid rocks inside dusty heads

A pallid echo bouncing off the memories of men

Whose genius cannot live again

Lost if not for pens which

Flickered like candlelight to fight the darkness of their time

Will we ever find such greatness in the

Tescos checkout line?

Will the butcher start to slap the slab and feel the beat grab his soul, marbled verses carved into the cold pages of meat slices at deli prices?

Could the rustle of plastic bags drag a single mother from the bustle of her day to consider the way words twist themselves like crispy kale?

Could the price of crusty bread on sale fail to capture the thrust of her mammoth imaginings syllables snapping like bubble wrap

tapping her fingers

She never lingers on mumbling phrases

but blazes on

tumbling with speed through each verse

Cursing that bleeding ink on paper does no justice to her cries

Her sighs are of traffic lights

And sleepless nights

and nappy changes and the happy bubbles of spit that sit on the edge of her daughters smiling gums

She runs through grocery lists and ticks off kitchen roll and aubergines

Poetry is her daily routine

Or is poetry the rapper with his words a knife

Slashing his opponent with a cutting slice

of victory

Sweeter than a piece of pie

Apple cinnamon crust melting

The face off his best friend

Turned enemy for the fight

Biting the ends of sentences

Throwing his weight around the cage

And unleashing his rage at the pig who pushed him down on the deck

At the barrel of the gun at his neck threatening

One swift click to the end of the road

His teeth are loaded with bullets

Heckles high, he reckons at least he’ll die with dignity

Words might be his coffin

But like Byron his lips birth love, laced in beauty and wit

A poem spit for a king

Ringing out funeral bells from the places he once called home

Immortalized tomes of verse and rhythm

Freed from their mortal prison

Maybe it’s the unspoken cry

Of a child who always wondered why it’s

Easier to run and hide than to

Stand with pride and brand yourself a fool

Bruises blooming but assuming

That love looks like black and blue

Language learned from wrinkled lips

Soured by the bitter drips of dissapointment

They speak their shame in narrowed eyes

Lies placing constant blame

Til compliments are prizes to be won

Always forgot when the deed is done

So eloquence rises like cream to the top

A quiet dream of words that could stop

The loose slap of the belt

That melts resolve like butter

And turns a stanza into a shudder

What is poetry?

Asked the paper I crumpled

Under angry stares like red pens slashing through the page

Crashing my course before I could even rumple up some sage answer

It could be just

The clack of knitting needles

The back of the queue

The roar of applause

A chink in the fence

The fight for a lost cause

A drink with a friend

A sharp jerk of the steering wheel

Or the silence you feel when you finally reach

the end.