Poem

Lament of the Expunged Metaphor

You bastard! You butcher! You murdering swine!
I had it all: beauty, aptness, concision.
I fit snugly into that trimetric line.
And what's my reward? –A brutal excision.

Don't tell me they told you to “kill all your darlings.”
Bill Faulkner's not going to take this rap.
That's a defense used by Eichmanns and Gôrings:
“I just followed orders.” Don't give me that crap!

I could have been something—a catchphrase, a clichéd
Expression. Folk would have asked, “Who said it?”
You should have stuck by me. We would have made
Such a statement—and you'd have the credit.

I knew it was coming. I saw how you treated
That cute little simile in the first stanza.
It was she got you started; now, she's deleted.
The dreaded black line came through like a panzer.

And you smiled as you did it! I saw you smirking
As you penned her replacement. That's when I lost hope.
You'll axe us, no matter how well we're working,
The moment you're smitten with a pretty new trope.

Oh you're clever—like Bluebeard!—and so discrete.
The world never sees any trace of your crimes.
No bruises. No blood. Just a clean printed sheet
Of meticulous meter and neat little rhymes.

But not even your cunning will suffice
To save you from what I hope and trust is
To be your fate, the terrible price
Assessed by the gods of poetic justice–

One day, leafing through a rival's verse,
You'll see me, set in a beautiful line
Like a mounted gem. And then you'll curse
Your cruel folly, and cry, “But . . . . you're mine!”

And too late you'll discover my charms.
And you'll want me back. And I'll say, “Never!
Your darling lies in another's arms,
A thing of beauty lost forever.”

by Emrys Westacott

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