1 The constraints: 1) No more than
one hour. 2) No more than 20 lines.
The result ? Genius or Not.


6th October 2010

By Michael Egan | 2010 October 06

the philosophers are secularists     they tell me so
I say    what about the soul? and one of the philosophers
leans across the table announces      we’re a secular group
I pause     and later another philosopher   alone    
tells me that    secular means to reject religion
it means to       it wants to     it is its one desire
I can feel it on their breath      the warmth of wiping away
the unwanted     and thinking back now it’s obvious
it was in all of the philosophers right from the beginning
their identity      their true unperceived selves
their hats     trilby and flat cap   their affectations of deafness
their lank hair and teeth falling out with each spat theory
every one of them had their own desire to reject and wipe away
when I was at the bar the german philosopher asked for a cloth
to wipe the table    oh I thought how you philosophers would love
to wipe the table with a wet cloth     to get stuck into the stickiness

that has been clinging to the wood for weeks
I saw the stickiness
the rings from pint glass bottoms     the spilt and stuck stains
but I let it be    added to it throughout the night    let my drink drip.  

and again the philosophers are covered in the scents
of cardamom   garlic      and rosemary      they are discussing
the merits of the levant     of the crescents of beginnings
their thoughts are curved and half made     bend easily   
they have crawling ideas    stumbling like the child
being called by its mother to a feast of seared tuna
and all this time the one female philosopher draws
with silver ink on a black page     she says nothing
all night     her lines are curves and crescents
cross-hatched      just hatched epiphanies like   
if the artist is a recording device then they are a filtered
recording device    funnelled    sifted
or      there are emails being sent even now
where it’s the norm to ignore  poor grammar   where
there their they’re is no longer any reassurance of intelligence
only an indicator of disinterest
last night
I sat and read a technical manual   not from a page

but off a screen    you know technical manuals

are the new poetry      without the elitism

the philosophers agree that there their they're is
something subjective about pushing a pen
around a page    about letting ink stain paper
and when their there they’re mezze platter
arrives they each make a choice based
on their there they’re social conditioning
the irishman who buys multiple chinos
takes a spoonful of olives      the south african
if he really is south african    breaks a pitta
bread in half      the hotelier considers the hummus
and the one female philosopher    still creating silver curves
and crescents    puts her tinted glasses on
and stares at the platter     sees how each component
is needlessly separated     this is what we’re getting at
she says    there their they’re is an example
of the needless elitism of choice    this is why

poetry needs the kindle    this is why someone

should invent a daily poetry app      I want tennyson
on the bus and I crave wallace stevens for my bathing.

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