‘An Essex Pome’
Most poets lie, then claim that their ‘poetic truth’
subsumes the normal kind.
Not me. When I write that I stabbed a frog
so I could watch it die,
or that my father had a special belt
or that I paid my way through university
every word is true. Even the little things,
the jays on the front of the house,
or the dolphin I saw in the Thames,
So when I tell you that I am the long-lost King
of Essex, you can know it is the truth.
I understand you’re sceptical,
so come and see the brown-stained vellum
with an Anglo-Saxon script
proclaiming Edwin Ruðe fford
the king of the East Saxons.
I have the family tattoo, as well,
the three entwisted eels of Essex.
My aims are modest; I don’t want to run
everything from Theydon Bois to Harwich.
I just want the ancient rights granted by the charter:
my weight in apples on All-Hallows Day,
first dibs on any whale or sturgeon stranded on the coast,
the right to drive a herd of sheep through Chigwell.