Why I am not a painter / decorator (after Frank O’Hara)

Poem (after Frank O’Hara)
‘Why I am not a painter / decorator’
I am not a painter / decorator, I am a performance poet.

Why? I think I’d rather be a painter / decorator,

But I am not. Well,
For instance, Jim Shufflebottom

Is doing some skirting boards. I drop in.

‘Help yourself to a cuppa’, he says.

I drink, we drink. I look up.

‘You’ve dribbled some paint on the Lino’.

‘Yes, I’ll clear it up in a minute’.

‘Oh’. I go, and the days go by,

And I drop in again. He’s still doing the

Skirting boards, and I go, and the days go

By. I drop in. The skirting boards are

Finished. ‘Where’s the bit where you dribbled

On the Lino?’ ‘I used sanding paper and

White spirit and removed it’, Jim says.
But me? One day I am thinking of

An animal. A dromedary. I write a

Performance poem about dromedaries. Pretty

Soon it’s a three minute slam poem, and then a

Five minute piece. There should be

So much more to it, not of dromedaries,

Of hats, of how terrible dromedaries are,

And badgers. Days go by. I learn it by heart.

I am a real performance poet. My poem is finished

And I haven’t mentioned dromedaries yet.

It’s twelve minutes, I call it ‘Poem’.

And one day I see Jim and he’s

Doing some plastering and he’s dribbled

Some on the Lino. 

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