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Online Busking

July 13, 2012

[There are still poets who perform better on the page than on any street or stage. Here is a way such people may appeal to the public’s generosity without enduring the cold outdoors]

Picture this: it’s a sunny summer’s day of such sunshine as we have not seen this summer. You’re walking through your favourite pedestrianised part of town, past all your favourite shops, to the little space at the entrance to the shopping centre where you are accustomed to seeing street musicians perform.

Today, however, it is not a band but a Poet who is waiting for you. Well, it’s not your thing, but you’re a fair minded person, you know you have to give these poor beggars a chance, so you listen to him reciting a poem, perhaps something like this:

Too Late

Do I think you look pretty?

It’s too late to ask me that

You might as well ask if I need to breathe


Do I really love you?

It’s never been that simple, has it darling?

Though it so easily could be!


Now it’s too late to say it’s over

Sorry, if you only want to flee.

Never see me again if that’s what you wish

It’s already too late for me.

Not bad, not bad, you think concedingly, once your dull brain has finally understood that this little poem is packed with charming rhymes and half rhymes.

This is an idealised situation obviously – no traffic noise or bolshie spectators to contend with. Still there is a tense silent pause, as the poet decides if he has the courage to try the patience of the (by now immense) crowd with another poem.

Finally he braces himself for more rejection, assumes an appropriate starting position and gives them this:

The Wedding Veil


You know you’re not ugly

So why won’t you show the world your naked face?

Still, who wouldn’t want to offer shade

To such tremulous and delicate beauty?

So, I offer you the finest veil

Of coarsest cotton cunningly reinforced and bound in silk

Suitable for even the toughest conditions

But as proud on your brow as any crown,

It will not conceal your face

But frame it with the warmest embrace.

Only the most relentless shoppers return to their meaningless quests, and the Poet slowly realises that he just has time to squeeze one more poem out before even the most enraptured insist on returning to their unpoetic realities.

Perhaps his delivery slips a little, the timing off, the voice developing an unpleasant quiver. That’s because he is anticipating the dispersal and loss of this crowd, and of the already absent person who wrenched these poems out of him, so long ago.

I saw your face on the face of tonight’s moon.

Everything looks as beautiful as you now

Even the moon, that used to mock me so coldly,

Even the moon, that seemed so loftily out of reach

Now seems to be in my neighbourhood again

Close enough to exchange a wink

A smile, a moment sharing the weather

Then the calmness that follows our connecting together

Our orbits coinciding, the usual pleasant exchange

Prior to proceeding on our stately ways,

Bestowing beatitudes to all within range

Well, that did seem to be getting a little self indulgent, even to such a sympathetic listener as yourself; but overall that seemed a reasonably pleasant performance, as good if not better than any street musicians would give.

And we all know that if it was a band, inviting you to sing along with some ghastly pop tune, all the crowd would be happily pouring coin and many notes into whatever upturned tambourine or “cool” instrument case they proffer for the purpose.


It’s not that Poets are too snobbish; it’s not that they don’t need to eat; it’s just that their greater sensitivity always makes “working the crowd” problematic for them. They are too used to rejection, so they can barely ask for what they desperately need.

You’re not heartless, after all, and having chosen the most generous amount you can afford or bear to part with, you look for some suitable place in which to drop it, preferably without disturbing the inner reverie of the visibly exhausted Poet.

(Here it is)

Please give generously

[Please give as generously as you would to any street performer who delights you as much, bearing in mind that Paypal will be taking roughly 50p of any donation.

The most generous donation will win a Mystery Prize

And, to show it’s not all about the money, the lowest donation (Provided it doesn’t all go to Paypal!) will receive the same Mystery Prize. Consortiums will be frowned upon. Two weeks to “drop coin” before the Poet gets moved on, winners announced after three weeks; the Judge’s decision is final!]


From → Critic, Poet, Writer

  1. This is a bit bizarre, JPFG. Hope it works for you though.


    • Bizarre eh? I shall take this line with buskers I encounter in the street! Do they offer their “punters” prizes? The fact is I must convince certain powerful figures that writing is a viable source of income for me or they won’t let me do it.
      I promise not to ask for any more money as soon as I have enough to live on and am free from official disapproval and harassment.
      Consider this post an experimental attempt to suggest a way writers can make contact with readers and enable the latter to reward their efforts directly. Otherwise it’s back to the thankless, seemingly impossible task of winning attention and support from a “proper” publisher.
      It’s a shame that my little poems should be exploited in this way; I hope they survive the rough treatment made necessary by “the current economic climate”. This post may also be regarded as a satirical comment on our times.


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