For several years, the Piranha Poetry nights in Stroud were a key community space for me. I wrote a lot more poetry because there were people to read it to. It was a space that felt safe and welcoming, and that was reliably inclusive. I tend to show up in community spaces and fail to figure out how to be other than awkward and peripheral. But Piranha Poetry always felt like home. I’ve really missed it.
Organiser Gary Death had one of those large birthdays this year, so back before lockdown I wrote him a poem, because I thought it would be funny to jam on the ee cummings line about Mr Death. And then I lost the poem. By happy accident, I found the hand written first draft at the weekend.
Happy birthday Mr Death (belatedly)
And what I want to know is, how do you like your blue eyed boy, Mr Death?
ee cummings man, his very how pants of the outside of his
Many bells trousers leaps to the microphone.
In the audience, three former students of English literature
Faint at the very sight of him.
No one who has ever tried to answer that question has survived
But Mr Death is ready, like he’s been waiting his whole life
For ee cummings man, poetic anti-super-hero in a war against
Capital letters, to storm his stage and enquire about blue eyed boys.
Mr Death is ready.
Lowers his trousers.
This is his superpower and in the glowing radiance of his posterior,
Literature’s caped crusader has nothing more to say.
One elderly member of the audience has a nosebleed.
Seven will later require counselling.
Three will be haunted by erotic dreams.
Mr Death pulls up his trousers
And invites another floor spot poet
To take their chances.
He likes his blue eyed boys like he likes his piranhas