Good for nothing

I met him in the pub. He asked: “So, what is it you do?”
“I’m a poet,” I replied. “What, really? Get away.” “It’s true.”
“Well I’ll be damned. Excuse my asking: what d’you make a year?”
“It’s more of a vocation than an actual career,”
I said. “One never does it for the money.” “So you mean
It doesn’t pay that much?” “Well, if I’m honest; not a bean.”
He stared at me. “You don’t get paid at all? You must be mad:
Why don’t you get a proper job?” “You sound just like my dad.”
He shook his head. “What happens to the stuff you write each day?
You read it? File it? Rip it up?” “I give it all away.”
“What – all of it?” “Yep, every word.” “For nothing – gratis – free?”
“‘fraid so; just stick it on the web.” “Man, stop; you’re killing me.”
He swigged his pint. “And you’ve done this for how long?” “Ever since
I was a lad, so call it forty years.” I saw him wince.
I went on: “Come to think of it, I can’t recall a time
I didn’t frame my world in stanzas, syllables and rhyme.”
“How many poems have you written?” “Hell, I’ve no idea:
It must be several thousand, though.” He almost dropped his beer.
“So let me get this straight: you’ve done a lifetime’s work unpaid.”
“Guess that’s about the size of it.” “You need a different trade
And fast, my friend – or some way to get cash for what you do.
Someone must pay for poetry.” I smiled. “All right. Would you?”

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8 thoughts on “Good for nothing

  1. I actually got paid to write poetry for the first time late last year, when one of my agency clients was creating a brand for a new restaurant in Brighton, and wanted some haiku to go on napkins, menus, staff uniforms, till receipts and what-not. It was great fun, and I have to say receiving money (albeit only a little) didn’t take anything away from it at all!! But even so, that was still work, writing for commerce rather than art, and someone else, not myself. Whether I’ll ever get paid for my own stuff is anyone’s guess! N.x

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