Advice for Entrepreneurs

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I found this nasty little rhyme lurking amongst my unpublished poems, and rather than have it rubbing up against my classier work – or maybe to prove, yet again, that I have no shame – I’m posting it:

If you wanna make a livin’ from sellin’ stuff
you’re likely to discover that the competition’s tough,
so let me recommend that you specialise –
and here’s an additional piece of advice:
if you’re gonna sell kidneys and eyes from donors
get signed agreements from the spare-part owners –
and a couple o’ tips I learned a little too late;
be cautious when selecting their final fate
and don’t take their organs before they are dead;
Mum was vexed to encounter Grandpa Fred
with gaping holes where his twinklers used to be
when she took up his mornin’ cup of tea.

But if your best-laid plans don’t go so well
There’s a spare cot squattin’ my prison cell.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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I am a Terrible Poet

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Those of you who know me will be aware that I don’t usually enter writing competitions. This is not due to modesty or fear of failure, since there is one contest that I often submit to; the prestigious Terrible Poetry Contest. The main rule of the game is that the poem must be deliberately terrible. Any poet worth his/her salt can enter – and perhaps win – The Gregory O’Donohue International Poetry Competition or The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition, but I ask you: which of those excellent poets would have the courage to compete in Chelsea’s Terrible Poetry Contest, and how well would they fare? Eh? Eh?

My efforts have finally paid off: Along with one other Terrible Poet, I won last week’s Terrible Poetry contest! Between you, me and the other two people who accidentally stumbled onto this post, it’s my second win, but the first win – although a triumph of sorts – carried a little less weight, since the judges announced that all of the poems submitted were equally terrible, and awarded the prize to all of us. This resulted in a crisis of confidence; some of the submitted poems looked quite good to me… were our poems genuinely Terrible, or were they all embarrassingly so-so? I needed to try harder. I needed to WIN.

I tried – I tried so hard. At first my efforts were all in vain. My poems just weren’t Terrible enough. One heartless reader even remarked that she didn’t think I was capable of writing a Terrible poem! It cuts, it cuts deep…

This time I was determined to take the cup, so I submitted four poems. I like to think my win was down to merit, rather than my overbearing persistence, although, to be frank, I don’t think the chosen poem was the most terrible of the quartet.

I proudly present my award, with grateful thanks to Chelsea, who hosts the crazy Terrible Poetry Contest:

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and these are all four poems:

A Helping Hand (the winning entry)

Poor Willie said
he wished he was dead.
I wished the same
so I took aim.

Dragon

If I described the beat of its wings descending to the ground,
the claws, the teeth, the flames that brought Willie down,
It would sound like a lie, even silly,
Alas, poor Willie.

Who, Me?

I told him not to smoke your fags
and why would I dip his glad-rags
in paraffin? It wasn’t me, dad.
Can I have Willie’s iPad?.

Willie’s Mayo

Willie loved red, he dreamed of red
and all the thoughts inside his head
he drew on walls in crimson crayon
(He even mixed brightest red into mayon-
Naise). While dripping red ink in a nearby well
he tripped, and heavily, in he fell.
As from the depths his corpse was raised,
Willie’s bloodied skull left his mother unfazed.
“I see he’s rejecting the red from his head
so it’s OK to chuck out his mayo,” she said.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Promises

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Be mine.” he whispered, ”You are my chocolate coated limousine, my deepest bungee jump, my highest schoolyard leap-frog, my cool breath in a heated discussion, my hot water bottle at the frozen peak of mount Everest, my best cheese grater, my tastiest salt-lick, the cog around which I rotate. Your caress is cricket to me, your kiss is pink concrete.

Open me, live in me; crush me with the weight of your sub-atomic love bomb; your over-exposed throat; your forked knife sharpener; your ready whittling and all the utensils that you hide beneath the tittle-tattle of a million silences.

Take me, let me teach you to ride on the back of the butterfly that flits from gullet to lips; to scale the heights of fishes which fly in the sand; to extract kettle fluff from photographs of Mona Lisa; to build an atom from an elephant, a mousetrap from a mighty dam, to ignite the stars armed only with a broken toothpick and an excerpt from Handel’s Water Music.

Let me show you the truths I stole from centuries of reading rotting carrot heads and studying the birth of synthesis.

Come, share my bent nail, take the lonely word-processor from my fluted heart. Be my new burnt bread, my ocean of sky, my everything reduced for one day only, again and again, for ever and ever ’til death do us part. I’m begging you in B minor; express a quiet acceptance of fate. Let me love you.”

(He wanted to win me)

I don’t like your tone!” I cried.

Do not try to win me, or I will extract your teeth with a sledge-hammer. I’ll destroy your father’s estate. I’ll make the tax office refuse your rebate. I’ll tear down your house, drive your Mercedes into a wall, kill your computer with a rash of vicious viruses, burn your books, shatter your faberge eggs I’ll break your bed with my plastic passion. I will trifle with your affections and I will leave you raw and heartbroken.

I will undo you.”

(I told him that I liked things the way they were)

But we could be a perfect match, like Morecambe and pistachio nuts, like strawberries and the little plastic blocks that you screw on to hold modern kitchen units together when you buy them from places like B&Q, like bread and hair remover, like a hammer and all kinds of items that pair up nicely.

We could tie the tangle, dance the fandango, slide into sheets of satin on a brave raft of reality. We could build a barn, raise the roof, and fill it with glass and china and soft furnishings and small sharp metal objects. We could make tiny things with ten little fingers and ten little toes, that grow and go. We could wave them goodbye and turn to each other and say It’s just us now,’ and You go and sit down in front of the telly, while I make us a nice cup of tea.’ We could relax. We could retire and grow old together. And when the moment was right, we could die in each others arms.”

(He was just an ordinary bloke really)

Oh, I see,” I said. ”That puts a completely different slant on it. It sounds very nice. We’ll get a sensible semi-detached property in the suburbs. We’ll have quiet nights in, playing tiddly winks and tic-tac-toe. You’ll have to remove your shoes as soon as you come home from the office; can’t have you getting the carpets all dirty. When the babies come along, my mother can stay, to help me out until I get on my feet again. I expect I’ll need a nanny. They’re so useful, don’t you think? When you retire, we can move to a cottage in the country, and grow roses around the door. You could take up vegetable gardening, and I could join a bridge club.

Yes, I’ll marry you.”

(I was seduced by his offer of security)

When we wed, he expeditiously discarded the word-smithery with which he had won me, preferring practicality and rationalism, sprinkled with roses and romance. He lay carpets at my feet, regaled me with tasteful trinkets and household requisites. Furthermore,he tucked surprise gifts in hidden places: rank, balled-up socks under the bed. In the bathroom; twisted tubes, sticky globules, opposing odours. In the kitchen, crumbs and citric smears in the butter dish. At breakfast, grunts and unkissable stubble scumbled my serenity. In the evening his T.V. killed my creativity. At night the heat from his body chased sleep away.

(However, he soon irritated me)

I extracted his teeth with a sledge-hammer. I destroyed his father’s estate. I caused the tax office to refuse his rebate. I tore down his house, drove his Mercedes into a wall, killed his computer with a rash of vicious viruses. I burned his books. I smashed his faberge eggs. I broke his bed. I trifled with his affections and left him raw and heartbroken.

I undid him.

(We parted company)

When nights draw in I keep myself warm with many layers of thin clothing and thick blankets. In the musty swill of my tent I sleep easy, letting fickle seasons lead me. In spring I wake each morning with the dawn, eased into sense by light which pricks the skin of my tent. Overhanging trees dapple a caramel silhouette on the canvas of the tent that protects me.

My passion is consumed.

(I prefer to be alone)


Sorry Paul; I couldn’t resist tweaking my poem a little before publishing it on this site.
I left the original version untouched.

© Jane Paterson Basil