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Poetry

SHIT STREET

François Villon knew Shit Street knew Shit Street not in the way of a taxi driver an ambulance driver a pizza delivery driver knows Shit Street passing thru a flittering blur he knew Shit Street with its back streets the subterranean streets the gutters the dirt the grime the smells like a dog knows one arsehole from one arsehole the best getaways the best holes to disappear down the best places to duck and hide the best gambling dens with cock fighting and bear baiting the Chaucerian taverns bars brothels cheap whorehouses far away from the pox the place to store and sell swag

yes, François Villon knew Shit Street like Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

                                                                      like Ben Johnson

John Sidney Blyth Barrymore played François Villon in the movies.

Where are those who were before us François de Montcorbier?

François Villon lived a life on the lam one foot in front of the other the result of a life on the rob a life of riotous living

                                                drinking

                                                            fighting

robbing

                                                                                   gambling

                                                                                              fucking

Rhyme is a carcrash they say then and now

Bloody heads protruding through shattered tessellated glass

Meter and rhythm are moribund they say then and now

Would François Villon find a publisher today?

Vers libre to the French but free verse to the English. When the English tongue – the vilest thing we possess – moves around the mouth it produces rhythm and inexorably meter they say then and now. No such thing as free verse nothing’s free nothing is free free free. The poet has to go out and rob. Even old T.S. Eliot said

T.S. Eliot worked in a bank. You know what Balzac said

                        Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.

Even in prose rhythm that old bitch gone in the gums slips in like a surreptitious thief to bash in your skull and steal your dreams. Is the mythical method an academic way of saying thieving from the past? There is no free verse they say then and now.

Poverty always stings cried François Villon. O how true!

Some poets just have a knack of landing in Shit Street.

François Villon wrote

                       Qui Meurt, a ses lois de tout dire!

                     Ti-tum-ti-tum-ti

Kit Marlowe was a scholar an international spy a forger an atheist so it’s no surprise he finished his beer & pie and got stabbed in the eye. Poor Kit ended up bleeding all over the floor of Shit Street.

Overindulging in pickling herring and expiring is living in Shit Street

poor Greene

twice he gets it in the neck

a dig at the Bard

That’s double Shit Street!

not many knew Shit Street with the intimacy of François Villon from a cell he dreamt of it from the torture chamber he dreamt of it suspended and broken he dreamt of it kicked and punched he dreamt of it stretched to breaking he dreamt of it old and frail and without words he dreamt of it from the deathbed he dreamt of it

Paul Kavanagh

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