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AN EVENING OF POETRY

by
 Arriving for a reading an hour too early:

Ruefully, the general manager stopped putting out the chairs.
“You don’t get any help these days.
I have To sort out everything from furniture to faxes.
Why not wander round the park? There are ducks And benches where you can sit and watch.
” I realized it was going to be a hungry evening With not even a packet of crisps in sight.
I parked my friend on a bench and wandered Down Highgate Hill, realising where I was From the Waterlow Unit and the Whittington’s A&E.
Some say they know their way by the pubs But I find psychiatric units more useful.
At a reading like this you never know just who Might have a do and need some Haldol fast.
(Especially if the poet hovering round sanity’s border Should chance upon the critic who thinks his Word Is law and order - the first’s a devotee of a Krishna cult For rich retirees; the second wrote a good book once On early Hughes, but goes off if you don’t share his ‘Thought through views’).
In the event the only happening was a turbanned Sikh Having a go at an Arts Council guru leaning in a stick.
I remembered Martin Bell’s story of how Scannell the boxer Broke - was it Redgrove’s brolly? - over his head and had To hide in the Gents till time was called.
James Simmons boasted of how the pint he threw At Anthony Thwaite hit Geoffrey Hill instead.
O, for the company of the missing and the dead Martin Bell, Wendy Oliver, Iris and Ted.

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