Fear of Flying
Assemble what you need—bamboo,
Brown paper, string, a pot of glue,
Feathers from Highland capercaillies,
Gut from guitars or ukuleles,
Stout cardboard, twenty small brass screws,
The sort high class opticians use,
Seventeen feet of copper wire,
Are all the parts you will require.
Follow the plans enclosed, Then cut
To size and lash it tight with gut.
When your construction is robust
And sprinkled with my magic dust,
Proceed to some convenient cliff.
Hold both your arms out very stiff.
Flap. Jump. Now give it all you've got,
And you will fly.
Or you will not.
John Whitworth is one of those fattish, baldish, backward-looking, provincial poets in which England is so rich. His tenth collection, Girlie Gangs, was published by Enitharmon in 2012 to international acclaim. Well, Les Murray liked it. And Walter Ancarrow in America. You might also consider Writing Poetry published by A & C Black, one of those how-to books; it has run to a second edition and is pretty good, though he (the poet) would say that, wouldn’t he? He once won £5,000 for a single poem. Listen and marvel.