Poem: ‘The Entertainer’s Servant’

See the violinist
blocking, enchanting passing crowds with his bowing
and watch some ragged child, the very thinnest,
with held-out cap through those crowds coming and going.

Or the organ grinder
haunting the emotions and memories of all,
his songs life’s bittersweetness’s reminder….
but it’s his well-dressed monkey makes the coins fall.

And more: the child’s home work handed in
though mostly done by mummy;
and more: the wisecracks bandied in,
seemingly by the ventriloquist’s dummy…

This is the poet’s story:
somewhere some unseen Maker
wrings from a wild wand
magnificence, sadness, glory…
while the mere poet capers,
postures, and holds out a hand.

All of which is merely a complicated rumination on not knowing where poetry comes from. It feels like the initial impulse and the key words come from outside, from some muse or god of poetry… and the poet is merely a puppet: observed, apparently autonomous, but not the true artist.

This poem was published in The Road Not Taken: The Journal of Formal Poetry. It may not be as formal as you would expect, but it has a steady structure complete with rhymes. I make no apologies for its inadequacies – the poem itself allows me to blame the unknown puppeteer.

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