I used to keep a diary. A proper diary – the kind you cover with tears and bad poetry and keep hidden under your mattress like a shameful secret or a semen-sock. The kind that in recurring dreams is devoured by family and other sneering enemies, maybe over your coffin.
Last night Keith and I got talking about a weekend we spent in Brighton many years ago. He claimed that in the middle of the night I stripped off and marched into sea, shouting, ‘Any fool can walk on water. It’s merely a matter of mind over matter!’ I maintain however, that no such thing happened. I maintain that the water-walking episode took place in North Wales years later.
So when I got home in the early hours, I dug out my old diaries and checked. I was right. Of course I was right. For I have the memory of a giant computerised elephant, whereas Keith has the memory of goldfish with Alzheimer’s. Why, sometimes he even forgets he has a girlfriend!
Sorry. Sorry, Keith. And happy birthday for tomorrow. Me old mate.
Anyway, the reason I mention all this is because I ended up staying up till gone light this morning catching up on my adolescence. Mostly diaries from when I was 15 and 16. What was particularly astonishing and not a little dispiriting was how very little has changed. I still spend most of my time bemoaning my physical appearance and lack of female company. The only difference is I wrote a lot of really shocking poetry then.
So I was thinking of maybe sharing a bit of the really embarrassing stuff, by way of full exposure. But I think I might be a little too ashamed. I’m definitely too ashamed to include any of ‘Angry Poem on Gulf War’, written on 27 January, 1991.
God, I was ticked off about that war.
But besides war in general, nukes specifically, vivisection, suicide, dandruff and despair, I also seemed to specialise in poems that appeared to be clever but in actual fact weren’t. They gave the impression of having depth but were in fact empty Petri-dishes of disappointment. Like this one:
A cat steals bread, by the slice,
From the kitchen of its owner.
Takes the bread to the garden
To use as bait for birds.
The owner of the cat notices
That his girlfriends
Are getting younger.
This next one too is similarly delusional, but for some reason I still actually quite like it. It was written when I was 16, so it’s quite a mature, introspective piece. Yo, check it:
Nestling in their walnut shells
Like frightened boys in crowded cells,
To and fro like sulphured bells
Which toll when someone dies.
Like two pale boys who cower in fright
With shifty eyes of cellulite
Which twinkle spiteful through the night
When someone lonely cries.
A sea of impact, pressure, noise,
A mass of ass devoid of poise.
A crowded cell of frightened boys
With watering, damaged eyes.
Then there’s this, one of my unrequited love poems from one of my 400 volumes of unrequited love poems. I’m almost ashamed to say, but I’m pretty sure this was written about Ange, back in the day, when she was giving herself at parites and I was hiding away in my bedroom reading ee cummings and listening to George Formby. (I had already found out the meaning of ‘unrequited’.) I’m actually quite proud of this one. It doesn’t have a title:
thy skin is a bandage of unbroken beauty
thy unsleeping bones beat the passion of truth
thy head (clenched with questions) laughs poems of loving
thy heart (filled with giving) smiles proof
Go on then, one more.
Tick Tock, Tick…
How her wings do flap and carry
Folk to coffins, kids to bed.
Mistress Time without a worry,
Winds her watch and finds me dead.
Hmm. I should have stopped at the love one. Damn it!