Poets, Pizza, Crowd-Sourced Poetry and Requests

Last night (Friday 17th Jan 2020), I performed in the beautiful new pavilion at Coriole Winery, overlooking the majestic McLaren Vale vineyards. A large and raucous crowd, fuelled by the excellent Coriole wines and fed by pizza from the newly constructed pizza oven, gave a warm reception to me, Sarah-Jane Justice, Emilia Haskey and Alison Bennett. The evening was MCd by the lovely Jude Aquilina who interspersed the performances with poems of her own and of others, including a new and very moving one to her partner Brenton, who had been fighting the bushfires on Kangaroo Island.

I tried something completely different as part of my set last night. I distributed clip boards amongst the crowd and asked them to write one liners about behaviours that make them want to shout “Selfish Bastards” at other people. I thought I might get one or two suggestions or none at all, but was inundated with contributions. Clearly there are a lot of selfish bastards out there. At the end of my set I incorporated most of these lines into my “Selfish Bastards” poem. It was a lot of fun. There were lewd, rude, funny and insightful lines from the audience. Just a  few of my favourites:

“People who holiday in Hawaii”

“People who dump me Xmas Eve (fuck you Dan)”

“People who don’t believe in climate change”

“People who think sex ends when they’ve orgasmed”

“Carnivores who eat all the vegetarian pizzas”

“People who’s mobile phones ring during poetry readings”

“People who know they’ve had more pizza than the rest of us but keep on eating it” (with accompanying diagram!)

Anyway, the poem itself went down well, and the whole evening was great fun. Many thanks to Jude Aquilina for the invite and to the wonderful management and staff at Coriole Winery for hosting the event. If you’re ever in McLaren Vale, pay them a visit, not just because they support the arts, but also because they are lovely people, their wine is world-class and the winery is such a beautiful spot.

Two people asked me for copies of poems I read which are not yet published, so I thought the easiest thing to do would be to put them here on the blog where they can access them and pass them onto friends. One is my sensitive little love poem to Donald Trump (for Tom from Norfolk – have fun in India). The other is my take on Philip Larkin’s “This be the Verse”, mine being titled “This be the ReVerse”, for Margret without an “a” – hope your children are the ones you deserve.

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Donald Trump, I Love You Man

Oh Donald Trump, I love you man

Your orange skin face and your bright golden hair

Your peppermint breath and your predators glare

Your hair surfs your head from one side to the other

like a baby hamster in search of its mother

I love how you hold up your neat thumb and finger

like you’re summoning thoughts through the hole in your sphincter



Oh Donald Trump, I love you man

I love the way you don’t read no books

You got all your wisdom from working with crooks

No need for long words, no speech hi falutin

Your message is simple, just trust Mr. Putin

We trust you’re the man to clean up this mess

We don’t trust you more but we distrust you less



 

Oh Donald Trump, I love you man

You’ll keep those illegals from crossing our borders

with their nachos and tacos and cheap Margaritas

You’ll build a huge wall and you’ll send them the bill

and if they don’t pay you’ll nuke them to hell.

Real ‘mericans will get the great jobs that they do

Like mowing the lawn and cleaning your loo



 

Oh Donald Trump, I love you man

I’ve heard the fake news of your sexual disgrace

with cute Russian hookers who piss on your face

And the stuff about groping and grabbing of pussy

Your businesses bankrupt, your real estate dodgy

But you wouldn’t waggle your horny old trumpet

In Russian hotels, with weak bladdered strumpets



 

Oh Donald Trump, I love you man

You say you can see that the future is dark

some say that’s because your head’s up your arse

You did it the hard way, you started with nowt

Apart from your billionaire Daddy’s hand out

You’re not polite and you’re not genteel

And you pulled off the greatest old snake oil deal

that’s why, Donny baby, our love is for real.

That’s why Donald Trump, I truly, madly, deeply love you man


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This Be The ReVerse

after Philip Larkin’s “This Be The Verse”

 

They fuck you up your sons and daughters

They mean to, yes of course they do.

They blame you when they shouldn’t ought to

Denying all that you hold true.



 

And we fucked up our Mums and Dads,

Complained of absence and neglect.

Our rebel instincts drove them mad,

We thought them gormless, dull, inept.



 

We place the blame on those before.

We pass the parcel in reverse.

But here’s a truth you can’t ignore:

You get the children you deserve.





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Copyright Mike Hopkins 2020

Donald Trump, Poet

From The New Yorker

Dispatches: Aftermath: Donald Trump, Poet

 

DONALD TRUMP, POET

—Mary Karr

AT THE RISK of sounding like a total candy-ass, I swear I have developed P.T.S.D. from the venom of this election. O.K., even before voting season began, I was wobbly enough to be seeing a shrink. But when I confessed to her, a month ago, that I was sleeping less and checking news outlets compulsively, like a rat pushing a bar down for a pellet, she said, “So are a hundred per cent of my patients.” Then she added, “So am I.” A friend’s cardiologist told her that patients had been flooding into his office or calling from emergency rooms with false reports of tachycardia.

 

Those of us who experienced trauma as children, often at the hands of bullies, felt old wounds open up just hearing Trump’s fierce idiom of outrage. All of us used to be kids. All of us were, at some point, silenced by someone bigger and louder saying, “Wrong, wrong,” but meaning “It’s not what you’re doing that’s wrong—it’s who you are that’s wrong.”

Language is key. Trump’s taunting “nyah-nyah”s are the idiom of threat and vengeance. For him, it’s not enough to ban abortion; women who have abortions should be punished. It’s not enough to defeat Hillary Clinton; we have to hate, jail, and possibly even kill her. Eric Trump responded to David Duke’s endorsement not by saying, “We don’t want his vote,” but with the line “The guy does deserve a bullet.”

 

This violent poetry has been gathering force on our airwaves for decades. It started with shock-jock radio and moved to Fox News. Then, there’s the ubiquitous browbeating by social media, which, I suspect, has contributed to the tripling of the suicide rate for adolescent girls in the past fifteen years.

 

It was only a matter of time before a hair-triggered guy took this vernacular to the national political stage. Nasty talk didn’t start with Trump, but it was the province of people we all viewed as idiots— schoolyard mobs, certain drunks in bars, guys hollering out of moving cars.

 

When a Presidential candidate mocks a disabled man or a Muslim family that has sacrificed a son for our country, the behavior is stamped with a big “O.K.” Some Trump supporters felt O.K. shoving and hitting protesters. At a Wisconsin football game, a fan wore an Obama mask and a noose.

 

If you ever doubted the power of poetry, ask yourself why, in any revolution, poets are often the first to be hauled out and shot—whether it’s Spanish Fascists murdering García Lorca or Stalin killing Mandelstam. We poets may be crybabies and sissies, but our pens can become nuclear weapons.

 

Like Trump, I trained early for the gutter brawl. I grew up in a huge state with an “X” in its middle, marking the place where the mouthy and the wellarmed crisscross the boundaries of propriety like cattle rustlers. Littler than my cohort, I learned that a verbal bashing had a lingering power that a bloody nose could never compete with. When a boy named Bubba said, “Your mama’s a whore,” I shot back, “So what? Your nose is flat.”

 

The vicious language of this election has infected the whole country with enough anxiety and vitriol to launch a war. American lawn signs used to be lowkey. You might see venomous slogans on bumper stickers, but not where anybody actually lived. In Florida this Halloween, one yard featured black effigies hanging in the trees above a Trump sign. Strange fruit indeed.

 

Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, there’s no question that she was the more circumspect candidate, and that’s partly why her detractors hated her. She was “politically correct.” By my yardstick, that means trying not to hurt people’s feelings (whether Bubba said something mean about your mother or not). And yet, among a huge portion of our population, this registers not as civility but as insincerity.

 

We Democrats have mostly tried to follow Clinton’s example, but I confess that, among friends, I’ve often enjoyed making ad-hominem attacks on Trump and his family in a way that—on reflection— shames me. And, certainly, the left has made use of that insidious “If/then” construction that Trump favors (i.e., “If I were President, you’d be in jail”). A putative friend once told me, “If you eat endangered fish, I won’t be friends with you anymore.” I replied, “If I cared more about a fish than a person, I’d examine my values.”

Today, I’m examining my values. As a Buddhist pal said to me on Election Night, “America has spoken.” Now it falls to us to listen with gracious and open hearts. This is not giving in or giving up. The hardest thing about democracy is the boring and irritating process of listening to people you don’t agree with, which is tolerable only when each side strives not to hurt the other’s feelings. To quote my colleague George Saunders, let today be National Attempt to Have an Affectionate / Tender Thought About Someone of the Opposing Political Persuasion Day. And (please, God) every day hereafter as well.