Verse Not Purse; No Green, Free Bean; Can’t Write for Toffee, Still Blagged a Coffee …

If I slip you a haiku, can I wangle a brownie?

Though I sometimes still have the odd couplet or rhyme floating around my head (mainly the works of the late Christopher Wallace), I jacked in writing poetry a long time ago, mainly because I’m not very good. Not long after I got started with with this blog, I stuck up a couple of my better efforts, which you can read here and here.

Being broke is no joke (excuse me, flows just flow through me, like trees and branches close to avalanches), though. So when I saw a piece in yesterday’s Graun dangling the prospect  of a free cup of coffee in front of my pitifully emaciated mug I was committing doggerel to a scrap of paper torn from my old LiveABC notebook quicker than an indolent teen makes for a vacant MRT seat. (Interestingly, that esteemed EFL publisher being of an evangelical bent, each page is headed by a biblical quotation. In this case, it was Psalm 34:14: “The Lord is closer to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” What more proof does one need of an omniscient benevolence up top?)

Pure poetry: Décadence Mandchoue with an iced mocha.

There were only a handful of places participating in Taiwan (presumably all of them under the banner of Austrian coffee brand Julius Meinl, which was behind the idea of granting free coffee in exchange for any old scrawl on World Poetry Day), and one of them was just down the road from me in Beitou. (Did I say what more proof? There’s always more!)

I sauntered in there around 6.30 pm, foisted my opus upon the bewildered barista  and demanded the most expensive item on the menu. It only bloody worked!

With dividends like these, I think I might start taking this writing malarkey a bit more seriously. The Gangster Poet Laureate Tracy Lauren Marrow wasn’t wrong: Rhyme Pays!

Oh, I suppose I’d better include the poem. The only slightly worrying aspect of the transaction is that I’ve signed away my rights to the masterpiece. On the entry form, Julius Meinl includes a proviso granting them freedom to use it as they see fit. I hope I shan’t, like so many struggling bards before me, live to regret my hastiness but with the wolves at the door and all …


Add Oil (加油)

From the criss-cross branches of the sultry fig

The collared dove purrs its invocation

Add oil, add oil

And I ride on

Way up paths

Stained yellow by

The witch’s overflowing cauldron

Like jaundiced reptile hide

Past the alley guardian

Who blinks at walkers

But loses it

When metal creaks

My progress underscored

By the chanting tag-team

Who descend to

School the junk-food faithful

Back inside the sandwiched tower

Lost in Ascunceno dreams

I add another cup of oil

For soon enough I shall be flying down

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