| The Story
The story cannot write itself. ‘You call
Yourself a fucking writer, do you? All
You fucking do is fucking fuck about.
Well, I’m a fucking story; I want out.’
The story, vile and serious as disease,
Compels its author’s fingers to the keys,
And prods him on, and will not let him rest
Till each last twist of narrative’s expressed.
The writer slumps exhausted in his chair
And eyes the pages with a glassy stare.
The first words get him choking with distaste
And yet he knows this is too good to waste.
His publisher receives it in the mail.
He reads it quivering, his face quite pale,
But cannot stop. The story sneeringly
Says, ‘Right. Get on and fucking publish me.’
When copies went, as usual, to the press,
Reviewers signalled their profound distress.
(The critic of the Times, unmanned by dread,
Spent the next fortnight underneath his bed.)
Still, the reviewers knew they must concede
This was a book you simply had to read.
And though they all disliked it in their hearts,
Their words helped send it lurching up the charts.
Its clammy pages spread uneasiness
In every town from Troon to Dungeness.
Its readers’ minds were sent in such a spin,
Most sought release in drink or heroin.
Some, when they'd read it, wept with desperate groans.
Some smashed the window-glass at Waterstones.
Behind stark chipboard sheets, next day the store
Sold yet more copies, more and more and more.
A priest in Hull, convinced it was possessed,
Attempted exorcism. Unimpressed,
The story went its unimpeded way,
Disturbing minds and spoiling people’s day.
Some readers whimpered feebly as they read,
Some pinched themselves so tightly that they bled,
But none could simply cast the book aside.
One reading group arranged joint suicide.
The Booker Jury, with despairing sighs,
Conceded that it had to have the prize,
But after the award, refused to talk
And hid away, shamefaced, from Kirsty Wark.
At which, of course, the story’s fame unfurled;
Translated, it corroded all the world.
It sapped the Dutch; it turned the Poles to wrecks;
It left the French no longer keen on sex.
Australians grew troubled, Finns depressed;
Brazilians lost their rhythm, Kurds their zest.
No one in Gaza now cared in the least
Who owned which fragment of the Middle East.
Inertia, apathy and dull despair
Thick as thick glue polluted everywhere.
From time to time our author, like a jerk,
(A rich jerk now) interrogates his work.
‘How did this happen? Can I not undo
All this, write something else that’s clean and true,
To lift the spirits of the human race,
And put a smile on each poor suffering face?’
At which, of course, his squat obnoxious tale
Will yawn as though all such remarks are stale,
And snarl its gross unpleasant smile and say,
‘Fuck you. The fucking sequel’s on its way.’
If you've any comments on this poem, George Simmers would be pleased to hear them.