A Short Poetry Reading That Means Something Else

by Ciaran O’Driscoll

All right, this is what’s happening.
Andrew Motion will recite a poem,
then I’ll recite one. And then you can go home.

Andrew Motion will recite
a poem about chickens in the sunset.
It’s not really about chickens in the sunset,
but at least he won’t get twenty years in jail
for writing one thing and meaning something else
as has been known to happen to poets who live
under certain tyrannical regimes.

And I’ll recite a poem about seagulls
but it, too, will be about something else
like the time when as a callow adolescent
I took a ballet student to the cinema
and when those gulls came into view
scudding the waves and rising into the gale,
the soundtrack’s orchestra rising with them,
I loudly whispered ‘Symbols of Freedom!’
to my waferthin companion.

Chickens in the sunset, seagulls in a gale,
these chickens and seagulls
that mean something else
could earn a poet twenty years in prison
but thankfully not here,
thankfully not yet.