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Sport 40: 2012

Oh, Abraham Lincoln, kiss me harder

page 25

Oh, Abraham Lincoln, kiss me harder

In poems you can do anything you like. You can start fires, or break the law. You can break the law by starting fires. You can set fire to the house of your worst enemy. In poetry, you can have worst enemies. In real life, I don’t really have any worst enemies. There’s that dickhead at the salad bar who always puts walnuts in my salad, and there was that girl who used to ring me up and scream at me, but I’ve got a new phone number now and as much as I hate the salad guy, I’d like to think that I’m a conscientious citizen who wouldn’t intentionally try to burn his house down. Besides, I don’t have his address. But I’m totally onto you, salad bar guy! In poems you can make out with whoever you like, even if they died forever ago. In poems you can say,

‘Oh Abraham Lincoln, kiss me harder.’ I have a friend who is angry at poetry because he says it makes life more beautiful than it really is, which is a stupid reason to hate anything. Hating poetry because it makes life more beautiful is like hating ketchup on your burger because it makes your burger more delicious than it really is, or hating the swans on the lake, for making the lake seem more peaceful. Fuck off swans! How am I supposed to make an accurate emotional assessment of the lake with you gliding around all serene? Sometimes all I want is to read poems that feel a bit more like real life. Something a little bit directionless and frightened. Something without any literary subtext, or clever double meanings. Clever double meanings are like those magic eye puzzles that were popular in the nineties. You can get really good at seeing them, but in the end you’re still the arsehole sitting in the library at lunchtime saying ‘I can’t believe you guys can’t see the fucking dolphins’ to no one, because your friends have all gone outside to do something way more awesome. Sometimes all I want is the poet to come clean and say, ‘I have no idea what I’m talking about.’ Sometimes in a poem I want to just list some good things that I like. The solar system. The names of lipsticks. Poached eggs and mushrooms on a little stack of potato cakes. Houses. Satellites. Swamps and the monsters who live in them. The internet.