Rodger with a d

a university lecturer in English Lit

so you know just from that

he loved the sound of his own voice

he’d orate pretty for us Ranters

lesser poets from the lower classes

talking of rhyme meter stanzas sonnets

while we opened cans screwed off caps

or if & when flush pulled corks on plonk reds

letting us know he worked ‘smithed

just a few solid lines a week

would reread them over time adjusting beats

words lines ‘til he felt them right

& you fellas? he dared one night to ask

oh yeah I told him I got all that done

I write down my words as they flow

then the next day or days later

if I can read them without cringing

I let them stand as they are

the cringe test I call it

as the Ranters nodded their sage heads

& bless him Rodger with a d

tried to laugh right along

not sure if I was serious

or just putting him on

quothing spenser the faerie queene

I didn’t dislike the man

though he was fond

of looking down his nose at us

the Ranters on a Saturday night

reading our shit to each other

he taught English lit

had spent his years at Uni

some posh high end one

poncing around quothing spenser

the faerie queene

he loved correcting our low life work

& we humoured him let him be

because he had nothing to say

oh he a had a parcel of words alright

lacy rhymes could spout but the man

could not lay down a true line

which was the funny thing

of the whole situation

he was getting paid for the work

& we couldn’t get a word printed

even pick up a dull dime

Ranters ball

there was some confusion

there at the Ranters ball

we were guys hanging a line

see whether it would

could stack up

on a Saturday night with other poets

giving it everything

or just flutter out free fall

some were there for love

wanting the pretty young things

take their thin paper number

drag it out make nervous calls

others had the speech

make it about truth to power

but I was looking around

our grubby community hall

could hardly keep the lights on

to wonder if what we had

was more about the numbers

whose ears we could numb

who’d come for the party the booze

but otherwise

did not care much

we had anything to say at all

The Ranters

a genial man

could speak fluent mediaeval middle English

tracing back the origin of words

the rise of Norse, German, French or Danish

& we

we were The Ranters

meeting every few months to rant our latest lines

sink a few drinks

& listen to the others as best we could

under those circumstances

oh, & bang away at instruments

should the need arise or be part of the act

the genial man taught English literature

at the local university

though none of us were sure why he was there

& while he had no stanzas

lines of his own to offer

he did seem to listen intently enough

tapping knees to make sense of the bars

& sweetly we felt, tried to make sense

of whatever verses we had

we were not there to perform for him

but as ever, each other, ourselves

& any other stray audience that may have stumbled in

from time to time he’d say ‘marvellous’

with the occasional ‘tremendous’

‘peasant poetry’ needed a little more effort to take

though there was little doubt

we were included within the proletariat

& by the end of those long nights

very possibly lumpen proletariat to boot

we were pleased to see the back of him

having no profundities of his own to share

no intentions of giving of self

in any contest or wordsmith compare

the words of the great & good of English lit.

so we picked up our papers

tidied our tiny dirt lot

& beaming at each other for the fun given

went off to the pub

the professor

was a decent enough chap
to come around to tell us
how we were doing the poetry
all wrong
he’d lay out the rules
I think he even had charts
& bits of old masters’ work
to illustrate his illustrious points
& we ‘the river street ranters’
would sit back & suck on a few
while he did his bit
as that was our rules
everybody got to read
sing
or spaff whatever it was needed
spaffing
we would applaud
even terry’s rotten poem about his sausage
got that
& then it would be time for the next
our stuff was not for the great English literature
most of the time it wasn’t even
for each other
it was about getting the words
the line
out
seeing
hearing
how the words were
sung out loud
the professor knew that
but he had his thing
much as we had ours