Keith Armstrong

In the Department of Poetry

‘Our paths may cross again, they may not. But I wish you success for the future. I don’t think you are a person who is easily defeated through life as you are by nature a peacock which shows at times its beautiful feathers.’ (Margaretha den Broeden)

In the Department of Poetry something is stirring:
it is a rare bird shitting on a heap of certificates.
He bears the beautiful plumage of a rebel,
flying through the rigid corridors,
the stifling pall of academic twaddle.
He pecks at the Masters’ eggheads,
scratches pretty patterns along the cold walls of poetic power.
He cares not a jot for their fancy Awards,
their sycophantic perambulations,
degrees of literary incest.
These trophies for nepotism
pass this peculiar bird by
as he soars
above the paper quadrangle,
circling over the dying Heads of Culture,
singing sweet revolutionary songs,

showing off

his brilliant wings

that fly him
into the ecstasy
of a poem.

Outside Your Lonely Window

My God,
we are
indeed lucky,
in this great and ancient city,
to have,
in our presence,
such a poet as you.
it even seems
that you
are bigger than us,
with your huge dome
our history.
Such an immense
and supreme
larger than the space
in Grainger Market.
And, when it comes to writing up our story,
we, of course,
must turn to you,
with your flawless technique
and structured craft,
turn to you
in our peasant
though we have folk songs,
they cannot do justice
to the language,
like you
above all,
next time,
before we break
into song,
we should ask you
to subject our voices
to your analysis.
But then
I don’t think,
in your padded academic tower,
that you can hear us all
in the trees,
your lonely window.

Keith Armstrong © 2018

Lament For A Writer Dead

He died,
clinging on to his pen,
at six in the morning,
his usual stint.
He’d run out of anything to write about.
For years, he’d watched the world go by his study,
observing other people’s lives.
All he had to do was fill the page,
lacking in instinct,
without a history,
with no real vision of any particular community.

After all,
he knew he was
a writer,
a describer,
inscriber of someone else’s paving stones.
An expert on poetry,
with nothing much at all
to say.

Fat Man Lodged On Dog Leap Stairs

He pounded the cobbles
of the Castle Garth,
bowling along
with his brain hanging over his neck
and his belly
looming over his huge pants.
His overeducated head
weighed a ton
and bore down
on an arse
fattened on home- made pies.
He was carrying a plan
for the working classes
but forgot his heart was too small,
dwarfed by his huge mouth
and an expensive ego.
He had a board meeting to go to,
the big fart,
and he sweated grants
as he blundered along
to the narrow alley.
He was far too broad of beam really
but he was late for everything,
including his funeral,
and thrust his plates of meat
onto the slippery steps.
History closed in on him,
the Black Gate,
the Keep,
as if to tell him
it wasn’t his,
as if to say
‘get out of my town’.
He squeezed himself onto this narrow stairway
and, like his poetry,
got stuck.
He couldn’t move
for his lack of lyricism.
The Fat Man
was firmly lodged
on Dog Leap Stairs
and the crows
began to gather
to swoop
and pick
the bloated power
from his face.

Keith Armstrong © 2018