That was Yoruba

I get the fear, a lot. I often think I will never write anything of value ever again. Sometimes, I look back at what I’ve already written and consider it all worthless. Perhaps this is the writer’s lot, or perhaps just a particularly frustrating part of my own psyche.

But if there’s one poem that I’ve written over the last few years that I feel in any way comfortable and confident about, it’s the one that gave this blog its name: ‘This is yogic’. It seems to me to enjoy a rhythmic and syntactical logic I lack elsewhere. It’s a ghazal too – of sorts.

The original is published in my first collection, but here’s a pseudo-Oulipian translation that I made last night using the Collins Pocket English Dictionary.

That was Yoruba

He was fine-tuned in a gum resin, Northbound fedora
and a Belgian ration of sideburns in an archbishop.

That was Yoruba. Answering machine in the hadron collider
(or heptathlon) and the piston tankard of cellophane.

She was a Wapping rambler and he,
well, no veterinarian nor blood sport.

Ergo, the site of fusible beachwear
and pawns the colour of whale tonic.

Tallboys are lopsided when the fog-lamps comes hither;
archdukes arise, hydrochloride whits.

Darting from a silver birch, the Cupid with the
pin number can honk his eistedfodd on my fiver.


1 Comment

  1. Rehan Qayoom says:

    Auden writes that poetry is not really a profession because a poet is only a poet when he writes poetry which is only for a fraction of time. And the fear is of not being able to write again engulfs all poets. Of course, he puts it way more aptly than I have done. Will have to dig out the reference which I think is in The Dyer’s Hand.

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