Obituary of a Stuntman
His reputation within the industry was first cemented
when he stood in for Eliot in the most perilous areas of “The Wasteland”:
his passage through the whirlpool in the fourth section
is still talked about in Poets’ Corner to this very day.
Often pressed into service by the Hughes publishers
he would later complain about the long stand-in hours
standing in waders in cold streams, or on lonely moorlands
observing the comings and goings of hawks and crows.
He was following a proud family tradition:
his father took immense risks when collecting metaphors
amidst the carnage of the trenches for the First World War Poets;
his granny bore a passing resemblance to Emily Dickinson
performing the most devildaring feats of syntax,
half-rhyme and punctuation to preserve the poet’s delicate health.
His devotion to his trade was not without its consequences:
on one occasion he was beaten up by the Anti-Nazi League
whilst painting a swastika on the grave of Tony Harrison’s father;
on another he was chased from Parnassus by angry lesbians
not fooled by his drag act as Carol Ann Duffy’s “Rapture” lover.
In the end though he will always be remembered for his bravery,
his athleticism in taking on the toughest poetic stunts of his day.
Left with a drink problem after too much ‘doubling’ for Dylan Thomas,
he was never going to “go gentle into that good night”:
unable to resist a lucrative Haiku Slam offer
to doppelgäng for Basho, the crash diet proved too much -
syllabic malnutrition has claimed him.