Archive for February 18th, 2007

I, Sandwich

I never had any feeling for writing my own poetry. The best I can say about my ability is that I was always able to recognise that my efforts stank.

This critical faculty vanished, however, one morning in 1986, after receiving for homework the task of writing a poem about ‘Poverty’, which my teacher thought very high up in the very very bad stakes, competing only with the Russians for first prize.

I can’t recall the entire poem now, but I do remember that the first verse rhymed ‘money’ with ‘funny’. What has stuck in the mind, however, is the last two lines, which from time to time crease me up with terror:

An apple core, a bacon rind,

A sandwich someone left behind.

This was, I recall, the fate of someone in poverty: condemned to sift through the contents of public litter bins for a bite to eat. Today I was mulling over the final line, which despite its awfulness, could have its meaning radically altered by a well-placed comma:

An apple core, a bacon rind,

A sandwich, someone left behind.

Through this, the poem’s last action is to linger on the fate of poverty’s victim: someone left behind. That, or ‘someone left behind’ is the last item on a desperate menu.

More interesting is this:

An apple core, a bacon rind,

A sandwich someone, left behind.

What is a ‘sandwich someone’? I don’t know. Maybe one of those guys who walk around in sandwich boards, now down on his luck and in for a spot of bin hoking. Or maybe it’s a poor person, so deprived of real food that they have turned into a sandwich, like the figures of Irish literature who spend so much time riding their bikes that they become the bike and the bike becomes them. Who knows?

I’m going to be rather busy for the next few days, so there may not be too much posting going on.

I on Twitter

February 2007