Start Drawing Cocks

I’ve just spent the weekend with poets. At 4am Friday night/Saturday morning, I was challenged to recite a poem I had written. But I could only remember scrappy two-line nonsense verses that I’d dreamed up back in the 20th century.

Saturday night, again, everyone recited poems. And I remembered that I do have a poem, a poem that I’m proud of.

One year ago, Leki died. One year ago, I wrote this poem, and performed it at his wake. And so here – with apologies to WH Auden (but not many of them) – it is.

Start Drawing Cocks

Start Drawing Cocks

Start drawing cocks, yell down the telephone,
Howl like a dog locked up too long at home,
Kick down your cymbals and unleash the drum;
Prance round the coffin, let rejoicers come.

Let aeroplanes circle screaming overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message: PENISHEAD.
Drape thigh-bones round the dark necks of the birds of prey,
Make all the policemen dance the night away.

He was our North, our South, our East and West,
Our skanky cut-offs and our denim vest,
Our after midnight chat, our throaty song;
We thought that he would last for ever: we weren’t wrong.

Guitars are what’s wanted now: get out every one;
Bark at the moon and party till the sun;
Drink away the ocean and break every mould.
For no-one now should ever do what they are told.

Start drawing cocks, exalt the tattooed gnome.