Friends have given me grief about it, but sometimes a poem doesn’t have to be ‘all my own work’. Actually, very few are. I’ve long been interested in the possibilities of poems as ‘collages’ of source material. There are a couple in Blue Lamp Disco, and the poems in the Ulster Hall are pure source material, though ‘doctored’ in – I hope – subtle ways. But this is pure collage: my only contribution is the order in which each phrase is quoted, and the quotation marks at start and finish:
6,781 Rules for the Elimination of Accidents
‘Think consciously at all times.’
—Bob Gourley, Towards the Elimination of Human Error
‘I continue to study the world’s accident problem.
Do not drink alcoholic drinks. If you make an error when
boxing, you are quite likely to be knocked out.
Calculate when to retire to bed. Yawning is also a sign.
I have visited the homes of the great writers of the past,
and most of them worked in rooms heated by a fire.
Sometimes when walking home from a day at the beach
my stamina is low, so I walk a little slower. I make it
a habit never to stand where I can be hit by tools.
Jesus gave us a very correct set of moral rules. Use them also.
Luke Chapter 2, Verse 47: And all that heard him were
astonished at his understanding and his answers.
I am writing quite a bit about alertness …’