Craig Raine’s ‘Gatwick’: the reply

This will make no sense unless you’ve read Craig Raine’s poem Gatwick in the London Review of Books. I felt compelled to reply.

That dick


Craig Raine sold his pride by chance. But the trick
is spending so much time on that dick.


My booth is the border
through which
this snake
must coil around my retractable
queuing barrier.

Now his passport droops as he comes
unable to keep it up.

I glance and frown,
the old man’s nostrils
need trimming. I hide
behind my screen.

And then he coughs.
I look up from my desk. He smirks and says
‘Craig Raine. The poet.’

In less than half a minute
I can be rid of him.
Does he think we all did MAs in poetry
in the immigration service?

I want
to take the piss.
But I can’t.
Why is he
so up himself?
It’s hysterical.

He’s too close. One eye rheumy.
He has come
to torture me with his back catalogue.
He breathes simultaneously humming
without self-control. How lame.

He is maybe 73
like a sloth in a tree,
lurking, leching, dribbling,
shuffling, lost in his myth-making.

I want to say
the way you leer is not
ok. You make me cross,
you blunder, without piercing the irony
you white male poets
imagine is a perfect bubble.

I want to say, hey,
I like your poems.

But I don’t get how they’re good.

This family of generic stereotypes
sit in different seats
because occupying identical space-time
is impossible. Even on the Gatwick-Oxford bus.

I want to say I hate your weird lines.

Which you try to disguise with bad rhymes.

I’d like it shorter by half.

I want to say,
you’re so crap today
it’s almost painful.
For most of us.

And slightly disdainful
to our sweated line breaks,
careful, enjambed creatures.
But you have now sold out,
(entirely, and with great fuss,
because it makes financial sense)
and have the cat’s-arse features
of no other.

(I choose to ignore
his blatant penis, small bore,
and the two-faced hearse
of his lumpen verse.
Which is duller and slower
and also a sodding imploder.)

I can say these things, I say,
because I am a poet and getting bored.

And of course, I did,
but won’t he please be silent?
LRBd, with thought unmoored.