(The general public’s attitude to poetry is a bit like it is with taxes – they have a sense there is something good about it, yet they still try to avoid it)

Don’t get sent down. Don’t stand on picket lines.
Don’t listen to Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
Keep away from aftermaths. Don’t teach.
Don’t have children, don’t have children
that teach. Keep off that Internet. Don’t
watch regal celebrations, war centenaries,
or Presidential inaugurations. Good luck
with christenings, weddings & funerals.
Keep your head down on the underground,
doctor’s or hipster cafés. Avoid canal boats,
gardens, community centres & play areas
as well as newsagents’ notice boards.

When a friend tells you they’ve started reading poetry,
give them a look as if God was a gasman & make your excuses.

Don’t live next door to someone who’s home in the day
but doesn’t own a telly. Avoid four-minute slots on Channel 4,
arts programmes on BBC 2 or 4, or nature programmes
presented by a middle-aged psycho-geographic poet with an earring.

Don’t turn on the FA Cup Final until kick-off. Don’t go
upstairs in a pub on a weekday. Don’t walk
to the back of a bookshop or library. Don’t go
to the cinema, local council cultural festivals,
or UK Cities of Culture (you hear me Coventry).

Don’t stay at home sitting in the dark too long
as you might weaken; if you’re not gaining strength
from philosophy, self-help books, or Dave
behind the bar, drop some acid & eat
a box-set of Jennifer Aniston films.

Please keep this list to hand in order to avoid
this esoteric & little loved pursuit.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Goodbye and thank you for reading.

Peter Raynard Photo

Peter Raynard is editor of Proletarian Poetry (www.proletarianpoetry.com). His debut collection ‘Precarious’ will be published by Smokestack Books in April 2018. It can be pre-ordered here.