A poem inspired by London's history
Published: August 29, 2008
|In the October 2008 issue of The Writer, Patrick Hicks discusses how the city of London, rich with history, inspired the poems in his forthcoming collection This London. In Hicks' research, he found out that Joseph Merrick, known as the "Elephant Man" because of the tumors that bulged from his body, was an amateur poet. Here is Hicks' poem about one of the most famous citizens of 19th-century London: |
The Poet of Liverpool Street Station
He grazed here, in the corner,
cloak open to reveal his bloated skeleton.
Over the years, the steam-engine soot
has thinned, but the lumbering ghost
of this famous sideshow still begs
our attention, his one good eye
bent sideways, the tusk of his pen
rooting for poems of love.
Joseph Merrick sniffs words with
the trunk of his tongue, he aches
to rewrite his pachyderm body,
his thickened skull is ready to unforget
the gasps of women and children.
His heavy fingers pinch farthings while,
hooded, he sways away beneath gas lamps,
limping now for the graveyard of his flat,
for the paper, and the ink, and the silence.
Who better than a poet could understand
the cutting power of words,
the blunderbuss of such lethal insults?
Note: This poem was originally published in Paddlefish.
--Posted Aug. 29, 2008