The Black Box


The Black Box

As well as these poor poems
I am writing some wonderful ones
They are all being filed separately,
nobody sees them.

When I die they will be buried
in a big black tin box
In fifty years’ time
they must be dug up,

for so my will provides.
This is to confound the critics
and teach everybody
a valuable lesson.

“The Black Box,” by Gavin Ewart from Collected Poems: 1980-1990 (New Directions).

I have done my homework and as soon as I sent it I thought of this poem.

There is nothing riding on this homework. It will not be marked. I have nothing to lose except some pride, and fear of embarrassment is a luxury I cannot afford as a learner writer. But everyone wants to leave class feeling good about their work, don’t they?

This week we had to write two sentences on related subjects eg marriage/divorce, losing/gaining a lot of money, birth/death and then choose one sentence to expand into a paragraph emphasising character.

Here’s what I wrote on marriage/divorce:

It was only when the reality of his penis in her mouth could not be avoided that Marilyn really wondered if it was worth it, and she never had to wonder for long.

Taking the letter to his house in person meant she wouldn’t have to waste a stamp on him, and there was always a chance he might look out of the window and see how smoking hot she was looking.

He was generous and thoughtful. He had taken her to a big shop and let her choose pictures, landscapes at sunset and the moon shining onto a river; bedding, white with small blue flowers and some cushions, pale green with large pink butterflies frozen in flight. In the kitchen department her eyes stretched and closed against the coloured and patterned china ranked in piles on shelves. She grabbed some white plates and said into his ear, ‘Go home?’ Where would she put all this stuff when they got back to his small flat? Her mind flooded with the village and a stray bitch peeing against the palm trees, vainly staking a temporary refuge. But it was only when the reality of his penis in her mouth could not be avoided that Marilyn really wondered if it was worth it, and she never had to wonder for long.

I am quite stunned by how useful the practical criticism assignment we’ve just handed in has been. I found myself able to analyse my work far more powerfully, but sadly I did this post-sending.
As I look at it now, it seems a lot about setting and plot, rather than character, although I suppose her compliance comes through.

So as usual, I’ve laid a curate’s egg and I probably should be pleased. The things I’ve lost marks for in assignments have been the most revealing.

I can’t wait until I’m a qualified writer.

Cluck cluck x


PS I have added the picture again just in case people didn’t see it the first time. I think the caption is the best thing I’ve ever written.

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2 comments on “The Black Box
  1. Before…
    Plastic surgery?
    Going on the really really big rollercoaster and chucking up?
    Taking off the hat?

    Ahah! Before becoming a qualified writer!

  2. cesamilton says:

    i absolutely lov black box . funny touching and knowing . keep going

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