Monday, 26 November 2012

How to stop spills

This dates from 1991.  Part of the inspiration was a sentence in journalistic account, I forget whose, of the causes of the 1987 Great Storm: I remember "In 24 hours the depression raced across the Atlantic, deepening as it went."  The poem was published in Streetwise 11, June 1993, p. 23.


Never nail the cup to the saucer,
never even use a screw,
but attach them sensitively
with a spot of Superglue.

If that doesn't stop the spilling,
fix the saucer to the tray
with a bed of melted candle-
wax and leave it for a day.

What, still spilling?  Bind the tray tight
on the table -- every side
has its silver eyelets, or you
punch holes if they're not supplied.

That's three layers of firmness.  Spilling
doesn't happen any more.
Whoops, the table isn't stable,
nail the table to the floor.

Nail the floor hard to the rafters,
nail the rafters to the hull,
nail the hull to the Atlantic,
dam the tide to hold it full.

Fill the dam to the brim with ocean,
taut Niagara of wall,
see the trough racing explosive
over spillage in free fall.

Down falls spilling, down fall saucer,
ship, nails, wax, tray, cup and thread.
There's the bad end comes of spilling --
so remember what I've said.

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