Young Baskerville’s foray into meta-poetry or satire or something. (© 1999)
by Herm Baskerville, 1999
Settle down, class, please. The lesson has begun.
The poems we will be dissecting today will look
Like this one. The poems we have in school
Have been pre-killed to avoid distress, and are preserved
In formaldehyde. And if anyone feels faint at the sight
Of alliteration, you may go outside.
You can get the necessary instruments from the tray
At the front. You need one poem, one white tile,
One scalpel. It doesn’t matter if, like this one, it is a little blunt.
Let us make a start. We haven’t much time, so I suggest
That we go immediately for the heart of the poem.
Watch, and make a small incision here, between
Verses three and four: just there will do.
Yes, that’s fine; try to make the cut as neat as mine.
And try to keep the punctuation
On the white tile, and not on the floor.
Pay attention, please. Notice the neat form of the simile,
Just peeping out from behind the extended metaphor.
Here we have the colon, and further down,
The semi colon. Can anybody guess
What this is? Yes, it is an internal rhyme.
And here is the inner or hidden meaning, visible
If we just hack our way through the outer meaning.
Oh, there’s the bell.
Quickly put everything away. Just tip the pieces
Into the bin. If you haven’t had the chance
To open up your heart, it doesn’t matter.
Terry Pratchett said he liked this. So did my English teacher, but let’s keep the credit to the one who inspired my love of writing rather than teaching a curriculum optimised to suck the life and colour out of it.