I'm top shot at my game. I pen
the sound bites for a man
you've heard of right enough -
one too verbose for words.
From long and convoluted sentences
I strike the fiery chips
that sparkle for eternities
on everybody's lips.
I can reduce a dissertation
to a syllable or two,
wrap up a constipated message
in a word that hits home true.
My master's speeches you'll forget
before you've finished clapping
but mine go on -
some say too long -
and never lose their grip.
Give me a closely argued script
and some syllables to fill,
I'll give you back a winning phrase
to move in for the kill.
When my haiku hit the campaign trails
I'm the Kikaku* of Tooting,
I'm the Manifesto Masefield of my day,
The Ezra Pound of policy,
a Spenserian of speeches
and a Browning who will storm a budget day.
I write villanelles on voting
and tetrameters to trumpet
every turning of the tortuous
political, backstabbing working day.
*A protege of Basho.
Like my poem of a couple of days ago, I've based this on a person known to me, though on this occasion, only briefly. I met him at a conference and during a lunch time chat he confided that he had worked for a time as a writer of sound bites. He seemed to consider that his "bites" were politically more important than "the big man's" speeches. Maybe he was right. I have for long toyed with the idea of writing about him, but there was a problem: Carol Ann Duffy has a poem I much admire about the man who writes the headlines for a newspaper. The similarity is unmissable, I thought I would not be able to avoid stealing from her. Nor - I think - have I. For those who might be interested, "Poet for our Times" can be read here. I don't mind you reading it now, but I sure wasn't going to follow it!
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