03 October 2005

Arggh! Poetica

Over at Between Lawyers, they've begun posting poetry. Or something like that. Let's see what excesses of pain medication did for my grasp of meter a few years back, eh?

The (Fee-Charging) Agent and the (Vanity) Publisher

The Author printed out her book,
Word-processed on the screen:
She did her very best to make
The printout smooth and clean—
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of a scene.

The postman walked up sulkily,
Because he thought the run
Had got no business to be there
After pickup was done—
"It's very rude of her," he said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"

The box was full as full could be,
The ink was dry as dry.
You could not see a sale, because
No sale was in the sky:
No books were flying overhead—
There were no books to buy.

The Agent and the Publisher
Were lurking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such mannered prose, yet bland:
"If this had even ought to say,
We'd charge eleven grand!"

"If seven scribes with seven pens
Revised for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Agent said,
"That they could make it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Publisher,
And shed a bitter tear.

"O Authors, come and talk with us!"
The Agent did beseech.
"A pleasant talk, a query call,
Full contract fees, no breach:
We cannot send out more than four,
To give a hand to each."

The eldest Author looked askance,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Author winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head—
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the Author-bed.

But four young Authors hurried up,
Unsure what had been said:
Their brains were washed, their wallets clean,
Their poems were put to bed—
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't yet been read.

Four other Authors followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more—
All hopping through the promises,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Agent and the Publisher
Talked on three hours or so,
And then they sent out manuscripts
To friends of theirs, for show:
And all the little Authors stood
And waited in a row.

"The time has come," the Agent said,
"To talk of many things:
Of poems—and scripts—and galley proofs—
Of editors—and links—
And why the market's boiling hot—
And whether books have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Authors cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are elderly,
And all our heads are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Publisher.
They thanked him much for that.

"A manuscript," the Agent said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Writing and character besides
Are very good indeed—
Now if you're ready, Authors dear,
We can begin to read."

"Refer us not!" the Authors cried,
Though never prone to sue.
"After such payment, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"Your work is fine," the Agent said.
"We'll make your cover blue.

"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice."
The Publisher said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were more circumspect—
I've had to ask you twice!"

"It seems a shame," the Agent said,
"To admit such a trick,
After we've led them on so long,
And made them pay so quick!"
The Publisher said nothing but
"The binding's much too thick!"

"I weep for you," the Agent said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Checks of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Authors," said the Publisher,
"You've had a printing run!
Shall we be writing books again?"
But answer came there none—
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd sold not even one.

I suspect I've just lost about thirty readers who won't be interested to hear that that was 20 minutes' work. Under the influence of Percodan.