They gave me a number to phone
And when I phoned that number —
When I eventually got through —
They gave me two more numbers
With even longer waiting times,
But they all said the same thing,
tone deaf to reason and compassion,
the Shylocks of bureaucracy.
Whichever way you turned
You got the same answer.
They had it all sewn up.
You were already in prison
Behind bars intransigent as iron.
- photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash
“Sorry, you have to move.”
“You don’t belong here. You’ll have to move.”
“But I was here first. You saw me walking up and down with my multitudinous strands of hair incarnadine.”
“You can’t have ‘multitudinous strands of hair incarnadine’ in a poem about waiting for a poem to pull up like a bus.”
“It’s too heavy, too overwritten. Too Shakespearean. It changes the tone of the poem totally. It’s like two colors that clash.”
“I’m sorry. You’ll have to move. I can’t fit you in.”
“Okay”, she says, shaking her multitudinous strands in a flurry of petulance, “I’ll write a poem of my own and guess what?”
“You won’t be in it.”
And with that she gets out her notebook from her backpack and begins writing, furiously as Lady Macbeth cleansing her blood-soaked hands in the basin.