This poem is about my inability to remember my own poems. It is why I need to have a piece of paper on stage with me because I know if I didn’t have it my mind would start worrying about the consequences of forgetting rather than actually remembering. So it has always been for me. When I am reading my poetry I am fine…
It’s “First night nerves every one night stand.”
The late Ian Dury summed it up well.
How it’s hard to look professional
When your composure’s all gone to hell.
I stand here before you exposed and
Unaccustomed to public speaking.
“Just imagine the audience naked”,
They said. [reassuring hand] We’ve turned up the heating.
This is [waves paper] what covers my modesty;
Acts as shield to stave off what I dread;
Gives me the courage to carry on
Regardless, screaming…don’t lose your head.
It’s just, I think, my brain’s wired up wrong
There’s no need for circuit diagrams
To see my ‘rabbit’ in the headlights
And why I’m crap at poetry slams.
Without this I’m a craven ‘effer.
In the minds of others a coward.
My ad-libs between the poems have
All the focus of Frankie Howerd.
And those links I’ve written purposely
Might have the lot of you in stitches…
If only I could remember them.
I’m more embarrassment than riches
I envy actors’ ability
To learn pages and pages of lines.
I can’t recall the simplest of songs.
Yes I’ve even forgot Auld Lang Syne!
As a kid at the Gospel Mission
They lay the fear of God upon me.
“Win a bible if you can recite
A huge chunk of Deuteronomy!”
I failed and was given a pencil;
So I’m drawing a line in the sand
With these pieces of A4 paper
That are glued to the palm of my hand
Now rather than spending hours on end
In reciting my words verbatim.
I’ll run a nice bath; pick up a pen
Have time better spent in creating.
But I believe in what I’ve written;
I’ll let it do the talking fo’ me.
This paper’s like a ventriloquist
Hang on…that makes me the dummy.
© gray lightfoot