Ephemeral, said the secretary of Barrow and District Writers Club
In 1988. In the upstairs room of the Traveller's Rest.
It was the first time I'd ever read my poetry in public.
Ephemeral, he said. Isn't it?
Thank you, I said.
A mixture of ether, me and Arial!
I was glowing with pride
Until I got home to the dictionary.
But my poetry has always been ephemeral.
Here today and soon, thankfully, gone
Like a Facebook post by the ever-blathering John
Like life itself (a good trick every bad poet plays)
The time soon gone, nothing ever stays
Your friends will die, your enemies too
I won't last long and neither will you
And this poem and the 19 previous
Will slip away and be forgotten the easiest
(God what a poor rhyme but I'm not going to worry my head
The secretary of the Barrow and District Writers Club
Is thankfully dead).
Lying is fantastic:
You can say you did things
Without having to do them,
You can say you didn't do things
When in fact you did them.
You can tell people you met Roger Moore
At the airport when
You never met Roger Moore
At the airport.
The only problem is that the next week
When you actually do meet Roger Moore
At the airport
18 - oh oh
'God, you look enormous!' I said
Thinking it's a thought best left in my head
But beneath my nose my idiot flap was open
And the smile beneath your beautiful nose (too little too late)
17 - meteor
The most magnificent
Meteor shower fired overhead
While we lay safely
Unconscious tucked up in bed
Like the full eclipse we almost
Saw through a battleship sky
Or the conjunction of planets
That always seems to pass us by
Miracles are always happening
But somewhere else
Like beautiful poetry books
Crouching unread on a shelf
A series of nuclear explosions
Ninety million miles away
Is visible over the horizon
At the beginning of every day
Here it is a crime and a sin
To even think of being bored
Where the beauty of existence
is happy to be ignored.
The chimney sweep is much in demand in August;
His wife seems increasingly irritated by my phone calls.
I feel like reminding her that I intend to pay him,
But I don't in case she speaks ill of me to him.
I remember when he came last year he had a bad back.
He was cheerful and his mate did all the work.
They taped newspaper over the fireplace opening,
Then used a vacuum cleaner to suck up the soot.
I'm always afraid the chimney will catch on fire
And we'll be burned to death in our beds, screaming.
I tell the chimney sweep a watered down version
To encourage him to clean the chimney extra well.
But the chimney sweep tells me I'm being daft:
'You'd never burn to death,' he assures me,
Rubbing his back and checking his messages.
'You'd already be dead of smoke inhalation.'
14 trucks overtaking trucks
I hate trucks that overtake trucks on the motorway
Bunging up the middle lane as a HGV inches, or
Waddles past another HGV on the motorway
Do I chance the fast lane or slow and wait as
The truck slowly glacially overtakes the other truck
On the motorway?
I was thinking about this when one of the tires
Of the truck overtaking the other truck blew
On the motorway, exploded in a puff of brown smoke
And the truck lurched into the fast lane
And back into the middle lane and the tire
Was in shreds
And brakes were applied
And we almost died
But in the end, nothing happened
Because I wasn't in the fast lane
And we got home
And I wrote my fourteenth poem
And now I've mentioned that it's my fourteenth poem
Some of you - not nastily, but understandably -
Are wishing that I'd been overtaking
The truck the was overtaking another truck
On the motorway.
13 - a family tradition
It's a tradition in our family.
Dinner is not served until father is made to cry.
Mother often resorts to violence.
Nipping, toe squashing and, failing that, slamming paternal fingers in doors.
The eldest daughter has read psychology and so employs hurtful comments inadequately masked as humour, "biting remarks" and outright profanity and insults.
But when all else has failed and hunger scratches at the doors of their stomachs it is the youngest girl, his "Cordelia" who usually manages to "prepare the table".
She tells father the saddest most pathetic stories about what they will all do and how happy they will all be after he is dead.
No sooner does the weeping begin than the sound of soup being slurped drowns out the patriarchal blubbing.
12 - this city
We left the city by the salt road
Singing "they built this city, built this city,
Built this city on violence and slavery"
Instead of rock and roll
But you remind me that for the Romans
Violence and slavery was rock and roll.
So they did build this city on rock and roll!
We left the city by the salt road.
11 - showering
After I have a shower
I need a shower
So I have another shower
And as I'm having the shower
Of how I'll die one day
And one day everyone I know will also die
And their children and then everyone
Else will die
And the universe will continue on
Unless it dies
Which is theoretically possible
And by possible I mean probable
And by probable I mean inevitable
But sometime soon
I don't know when but sometime soon
I'll have to get out of the shower.
Because someone else needs it.
John Bleasdale is a writer. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, Il Manifesto, as well as CineVue.Com and theStudioExec.com. He has also written a number of plays, screenplays and novels.