(With apologies to Linton Kwesi Johnson)
If I were a top-notch man, I would smash winners like Andy Murray, with a snarl and a clenched left fist and a thrust of the head. If I were a top-notch man, I would scale mountains, like Sir Edmund Hillary, peaks so beautiful and clean that you want to clean your teeth with them,. If I were a top-notch man, I would face the icy waste, like Captain Scott, and leave my brave but ultimately tragic note to the people at home. I would be a hero of the Empire. My futility would be heroic, stoic.
Still, in the meantime, with my poems, with my wisdom, with my less-than-perfect vision, with my own sense of time, I’ll write of beauty and love.
If I were a top-notch man, like Tom Cruise, John Wayne, or Julius Caesar, I would serve a pie to you so full of guns and blood, so exciting in its violence and intolerance, that steak pie will no longer be good enough, even with mushrooms and the richest ale.
Still, in the meantime, with my own sense of time, with my dog, with my woods, with my body if I could, I’ll write of softness and fragility.
If I were a top-notch man, like Cameron, or Obama, or Vladimir Putin, I would talk to you in riddles so economically deep, that you would stop voting, stop caring. You would go to sleep. And then I could do what I like.
If I were a top-notch man, like Casanova, or an ageing seventies rock star, I would have had lovers in thousands and thousands and thousands. But I would not remember one face, one name, one embrace in a purple haze of raining nights.
Still, in the meantime, with my poems, with my planet, with my home, with my loved ones, I will carve out a small island of sanity with my rough bass line, where a man doesn’t have to do what a man’s gotta do.
When a man does what a man does, someone usually gets badly hurt.