There is, of course, a tradition of "nonsense verse" a la Lear but that's not what I mean; that's still too tied to a basically logical way of reading the universe. For me, though, what I find in poets like Kenneth Koch or Ron Padgett is the idea that anything can become poetry if you let it. So I recently had a bad cold, and wrote a poem about it. Which was fine; but it still made way too much sense, so I turned it upside down to see what would happen. Poets like Rupert Loydell are using cut-up techniques - again to re-introduce an element of surprise into their poems.
It's that surprise, those unexpected shifts and turns in a poem that make you want to read past the first line. So here's my new poem:
A BAD COLDIt's a kind of unrhymed sonnet turned upside down. There's also the sheer childish pleasure of getting the word "snot" into a poem. It made perfect sense the other way around, and if you feel like reconstructing it from the bottom up, feel free. But here you get some unexpected connections, I hope; something that opens up the poem: plus a last line straight out of Alvaro de Campos (Fernando Pessoa.)
The next stop is Bessie’s o’ th’ Barn
or a sneeze dismantling the universe.
Is that a break in the clouds
next Friday? Nostalgia sets in at 50.
I feel every week of my age,
some sweet green tea and a tissue.
I need an injection of sun.
Because I’m a man it’s my job
I’m taking this illness too far.
What’s that mobbing the lampposts?
The sky’s an ache overhead. Pigeons.
Metaphysical with snot,
I sit by the window at the front:
my head needs truth, and Nurofen.