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David Charters.

LET us imagine on this day, as the sun winks flirtatiously behind a congregation of clouds, that your spirits lack their usual fizz, the soul sags, the countenance is dark, your gums bleed, your teeth hang loose, toxins lap over your liver, your wart is in the midst of a growth spurt, your bunions ache, and the insurance company will not pay for the flood damage to your bathroom. But worse is to come. Through the corner of your jaundiced eye, you see an unpublished poet, whom you bumped into some years before at an evangelical seminar for reformed alcoholics, and he''s shambling towards your table in the little caf in a purr of corduroy - wearing a suicidal smile and carrying a wad of papers. Before you have time to say, I''m just off, he pulls up a chair and sits there nursing a mug of weak tea, his thin lips quivering into a grim salutation. Of course, to students of the human condition, the key word here is unpublished .

He himself again, flattery They know from long experience that even the published poet releases his merriment with extreme caution. For example, he has never been one to lead the communal singing on a charabanc. But, since seeing his work in print, his the mood has lifted from profoundly depressed to very sad - a mere tilt of the head to you or me, but a cosmic leap in a life hitherto unadorned by trophies. However, far from celebrating the success of the published poet, the unpublished poet sinks deeper into the depression, which he now covers with a generous helping of grudge. For the world has not recognised his genius. His words have not drawn the feuding religions in friendship under one god. The woman of his dreams still regards him as an insignificant drip. Yes, gloom is his natural habitat and whenever you stray into that darkness, you will see his pale form, crumpled under a tree, head in hands, his pad and pen tossed into the grass. But today the presence of a familiar face gives his spirits a rare fillip and he plucks a sheet from the wad, spreads it on the table and sips his tea, before issuing the dreaded words. Would you mind if I read you a few lines from my latest poem? It is called The End.

There is no escape. He begins in an anguished tone: In the noble rain forest, the trembling trees await their fate, but the axeman''s blade will not hesitate; under the ocean''s roll the poisons prowl, never hearing the haunted whale''s howl; on the green moorland, you will no longer hear, the prancing tread of the spotted deer; my sweetest love trapped in a tower of power will you not grant me this final hour. Bravo, you say. That will cheer us all up. More seriously, though, you add, not wishing to wound his already tender feelings. It''s a searing insight into the problems that we will leave the children, if we do not act now.

hugs At this, the unpublished poet hugs himself again. For flattery is the food that nourishes his soul. I know this, having spent much of my youth writing doom-laden poems that were never published, quite rightly.

for soul But I am glad to find on my forays into church halls and cellar society that the poetry of sorrow is still very much in vogue. Hollow-eyed young people draw words from the night and lay them on the pillows of tormented sleep. Other poets write jolly verses, telling funny stories with witty rhymes and clever wordplay. Their brilliance is acknowledged with appreciative nods, but then a hush falls over the gathering as the true poets approach the microphone, one by one, with their stories of broken love, unrequited passion, war, death, disease and ecological disaster. It is good to know that the tradition still thrives. I had feared that the poets of doom, rather like the various styles of beetle and toad, were an endangered species, but their future seems bright and now they can have their words published on recycled paper, which will help to save the rain forests. * LISTEN to David Charters''s picture podcasts on www.liverpool dailypost.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 2, 2011
Words:710
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