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What the Chairman Told Tom

Basil Bunting


What the Chairman Told Tom

Basil Bunting


Poem introduction

This is almost a transcription rather than an original poem.

What the Chairman Told Tom

What The Chairman Told Tom

Poetry? It's a hobby.
I run model trains.
Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.

It's not work. You dont sweat.
Nobody pays for it.
You could advertise soap.

Art, that's opera; or repertory -
The Desert Song.
Nancy was in the chorus.

But to ask for twelve pounds a week -
married, aren't you? -
you've got a nerve.

How could I look a bus conductor
in the face
if I paid you twelve pounds?

Who says it's poetry, anyhow?
My ten year old
can do it and rhyme.

I get three thousand and expenses,
a car, vouchers,
but I'm an accountant.

They do what I tell them,
my company.
What do you do?

Nasty little words, nasty long words,
it's unhealthy.
I want to wash when I meet a poet.

They're Reds, addicts,
all delinquents.
What you write is rot.

Mr Hines says so, and he's a schoolteacher,
he ought to know.
Go and find work.


from The Complete Poems (Bloodaxe, 2000), reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe Books. Recording used by permission of the BBC.

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