P.O.E.T.S. Day – The Post Cinco de Mayo Version

Yes I drew you in with a Cinco de Mayo reference in the title and no this has nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo. Sue me. P.O.E.T.S. Day – The Post Cinco de Mayo Version

This is a celebration of a great supposedly Scottish tradition I read about in a mystery series set in Edinburgh. P.O.E.T.S. Day: Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday.

So weasel your way out of that cubical, fake an ankle sprain, have an aunt that doesn’t actually exist call about a house fire, unexplained abdominal pains are good. Get your way out of the office and to my bar a few hours before you’d normally piss off.

There’s a few decent apps that you can download that will place fake timed calls to your phone with whatever caller ID tag you want. The trick is to leave it out, open faced where people you work with can see it. When it rings with “St. Vincent’s Hospital” on the caller ID you are free to leave the office. Nobody is going to question. Just don’t get greedy. If you claim it’s your mother or kid in the hospital you’ll get a follow up question or thirty and there is the danger that they might meet your mom or kid in the future and ask how they fared.

Say it was your neighbor. Follow me here. Her oldest may have broken a bone but you are needed to check on her youngest who is biking home from school while she is stuck at the hospital. No entanglements or follow ups or even worse, questions about an event you don’t remember lying about a year later at some office function. Neighbor’s kid. You are free and clear and not really committed to care that much but you are duty bound to leave work. It’s kind of brilliant.

This weeks P.O.E.T.S. Day is wrought from frustration. The featured poet is notable only because he is horrible. I’m doing this to you because I am mad at poetry right now.

I subscribe to New Criterion and one of my favorite parts of the magazine is the poetry section. The April edition’s opening poem starts with a brilliant stanza that strikes at being and grace. It is wonderful. The second stanza talks about what the young poet does versus the old poet. Like I give a crap about your process.

Nothing ticks me off more than a writer explaining how they write within the work. Do that in an essay and I’m interested, but not in the work.

My wife is an editor and she has gotten queries – that’s an intro given with a submission for publication that is supposed to tease the work if you are not familiar –  that begin with something like “When I wake up I like to settle with my notebook and a glass of chamomile and consider…” by which point she’s already at the I don’t care point. What did you write?

So the needle of my poetry love which normally sits at a “Ready to Be Wowed” setting has misanthropically set itself to “Mad at the Whole Genre Because One Entry Disappointed Me and I’m Casting My Malevolence on Everyone Involved Except for Robert Graves Because He’s Perfect in His Field Despite His Obvious Personal Failings.”

So you get “The Tay Bridge Disaster” by William Topaz McGonagall. This is not the worst poem ever written in the English language. We have too many high school losers to definitively award that laurel. But it is the worst poem that was just good enough for publication. It’s like a Billy Ocean song. Terrible, but it made the rotation.

He doesn’t seem to be a bad guy – McGonagall I mean, not Ocean. His poetry was awful but he made a good living as a tailor or textile person; I can’t get a straight answer. He apparently entertained his co-workers with recitations of various plays. In one of those odd mean-kids-pile-on events it wasn’t enough to note that he was a bad poet. Wikipedia says that “McGonagall proceeded to educate himself, taking “great delight in reading books”, particularly cheap editions of Shakespeare’s plays.” As if he might have lost meaning for not paying more for the same texts.

No further ado, I give you the great Scottish poet’s most enduring work on this most spiteful P.O.E.T.S. Day

The Tay Bridge Disaster

William McGonagall – 1825-1902

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

’Twas about seven o’clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem’d to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem’d to say—
“I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say—
“I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.”

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers’ hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov’d most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o’er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill’d all the people’ hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale
How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

After reading that you might need a drink. We are here for you.

1 thought on “P.O.E.T.S. Day – The Post Cinco de Mayo Version

  1. Pingback: The Consequences of Law and Order | The Columbo Game

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