I by Mike Jenkins

I is the biggest word

in the English language –

some people yawn bored

as soon as you mention it.

 

I know people who erect crosses

made from it

and then refuse to carry them.

 

I know people who would

like to keep changing it

every week like fashionable clothing.

 

I know people who hate it so much

it’s become an obcession,

like a priest always ranting against sin.

 

In English, ‘I’ begins the sentence:

the other words queue up behind it

waiting for their instructions.

 

You must write ‘I’ with a capital letter.

but ‘we’ with a small one.

Why? … well… as in God and Great Britain.

 

i know a person who tried to make it

mock itself, to disguise an ambition.

i know a person who thinks it will outlive

the exploring body, the inflated mind.

 

by Mike Jenkins

from Empire of Smoke

The Cure by R. S. Thomas

But what to do? Doctors in verse

Being scarce now, most poets

Are their own patients, compelled to treat

Themselves first, their complaint being

Peculiar always. Consider, you,

Whose rough hands manipulate

The fine bones of a sick culture,

What areas of that infirm body

Depend solely on a poet’s cure.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Poetry for Supper (1958)