Spreading the word

The Farmer and the Ad-man: A Play for Two Voices

Guess you’re wondering
How I stand it:
Sitting here
Behind the wheel/At my desk
Of this big John Deere/Staring at the screen
All day
Spreading this stuff around:
A winter’s-worth/The empty words
Of rotted dung and soiled straw/You’ve read a hundred times before
From the farm behind the hill/In the world of buy-and-sell
But though it offend
Your every sense/Your intelligence
It nourishes
The sleeping seed/The constant greed
The groping roots/The men in suits
Promotes strong growth
In next year’s crop/In profits and the bonus pot
The endless wheeling of the seasons/With half-truths, lies, invented reasons
Unbroken for ten thousand years/The endless wants, the nameless fears
And after all this time
I find I hardly notice
The stench.

A necessary evil

A necessary evil

How the words must hate me.
All day I forced them
Into acts of petty crime;
A thousand pretty perjuries
Committed to save my skin.
I twisted them,
Bent them into cunning shapes
Corrupted and persuaded them
To say one thing
While meaning
Quite another;
Hollowed out the truth
Then stuffed it full
Of fat, sweet-smelling falsehoods;
Bit my mother tongue
Until it bled.
After hours
I can make my peace with them;
Restore the sacred trust
I sold for tarnished silver.
This is my penance
And redemption;
All is forgiven.
The job is done.

As well as (more or less) paying the bills, writing for a living can be a lot of fun. But sometimes, making words perform circus tricks feels like betraying them; they are my friends, after all. I’m never asked to tell outright lies in my work – God bless the Advertising Standards Authority – but it’s often a selective, filtered version of the truth. Poetry keeps me grounded, and ensures my own voice never gets wholly lost in all the smoke and mirrors.