By Roddy Lumsden b. 1966 Roddy Lumsden
Take this: for nothing here’s chiming, vibrating
and all this vainglory and self-deprecating
just goads at the tender parts, gets irritating.

You’ll make no advance advocating monopoly
on any vocabulary; even cacophony
needs the needle to make its point properly.

It’s true that you find yourself fey and bewitching,
yet always you feel that the itch that you’re scratching’s
soothed better by far by bravadoes of bitching.

The off-pat flyting, back-biting and threnody
you render and throw up, at will, won’t remedy
the rot of your serenading, lute-laden wannabe.

You can’t see a barrier without pushing through it;
it’s a poor pearl of pathos you don’t disintuit
and you now give a doing when once you’d just do it.

You want my advice? Here it is: try removing
the self from your argument - gluts of self-loving
just pudding the gut of whatever you’re proving.

That’s it on the chin and I’m sure you can take it,
but that shadow you’re boxing is me, so please break it
gently. Best wishes, I hope that you make it.

Roddy Lumsden, “Infighting” from Mischief Night: New and Selected Poems, 2004.  Reprinted with the permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd.,

Source: Mischief Night (Bloodaxe Books, 2004)

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Poet Roddy Lumsden b. 1966


Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

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 Roddy  Lumsden


Roddy Lumsden was born in St. Andrews, Scotland; he describes his upbringing as small-town and working-class. His earliest exposure to literature came from his mother and older brother, who would read aloud to him when he was a child. Later, when he attended school, his writing was influenced by the works of W.S. Graham, Philip Larkin, Thom Gunn, T.S. Eliot, and Sylvia Plath, and by song lyrics.

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SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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