6,781 Rules for the Elimination of Accidents

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 …’


About Martin Mooney

Author of four collections of poetry - Grub (1993), Rasputin and his Children (2000), Blue Lamp Disco (2003) and The Resurrection of the Body at Killysuggen (2011.)
This entry was posted in Poems. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 6,781 Rules for the Elimination of Accidents

  1. Hugh Odling-Smee says:

    I realise that I should write something pithy about a man rifling through the strange works held in the LHL, but this is too good. The strange places in writers heads.

  2. Jean Bleakney says:

    I like it a lot. Everything written is ‘found’. Finding things in your head is no different. It depends how you recycle it. And if it comes over a bit manic, as this poem does, all to the good. A sense of potential energy in a poem gives the reader more of a buzz.

    • thanks Jean.

      Bob’s clearly one of those strange driven writers with no ‘training’ or intellectual engagement in any kind of canon; a kind of literary/philosophical equivalent of ‘outsider’ visual artists like Moscow Joe McKinley. I’m fascinated by that kind of manic commitment, maybe because I find it so difficult to be driven in anything!

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