FRIDAY THE 13TH

 

Friday the 13th was a lovely day,

despite my vague sense

of trepidation and worry beforehand.

My mother is superstitious.

I blame her for creating

this irrational fear that I have,

for the negative thoughts inside my head

that serve no purpose

and I have no use for.

I can only imagine

I unwittingly inherited

some of her superstition,

at least to a small degree.

Yet I neednÕt have apparently.

 

Friday the 13th passed

without incident and was good.

A particularly successful game of football,

scoring a hatful of goals,

was followed by a pleasant

and leisurely lunch

with an old friend.

In the evening I enjoyed

a relaxing drink before bed.

I donÕt know what I was worried about.

All was fine and as it should be.

 

Saturday the 14th was

by contrast a terrible day.

My nine-year-old daughter

had a two hour tantrum in the morning. 

My wife threatened to leave me.

It wasnÕt a good day at all.

Perhaps wires were crossed,

days mixed up.

I wonÕt fear Friday the 13th again.

IÕll beware the day that follows it,

when almost everything that could  

seemed to go wrong.

 

 

 

THE ROMANCE OF FAILURE

 

IÕm drawn to the romance of failure.

IÕd like to be remembered as someone

who followed their passions

and did their own thing,

even when it wasnÕt easy

and wasnÕt working,

when it didnÕt turn out

as well as it might have done.

 

I refused to be deterred or to compromise.

I kept to my plan.

I had my own agenda, my own routine,

my own way of doing things,

that flew in the face of convention,

of popular conceptions

of how things should be undertaken,

of right and wrong even.

 

I shunned obvious career moves.

I didnÕt conform.

Nine to five in a stuffy office

was a path for others.

I never saved for a mortgage.

I didnÕt buy a new car.

I couldnÕt afford a house.

Yes I was drawn to the romance of failure.

 

Success has its own limitations.

Imagine if my poems, stories or novels

had ever been popular.

Imagine if IÕd been recognised in the street,

as I went about my business.

ItÕs a terrifying thought,

IÕm not wholly comfortable with.

I preferred to perform gigs

to half empty rooms than packed auditoriums.

I took low paid jobs.

I made choices and sacrifices,

sometimes the wrong ones.

 

I was unconventional.

I didnÕt fulfil my parentsÕ

hopes, ambitions and expectations.

I was a failure,

but I failed on my own terms.

For that I deserve a degree of respect,

a modicum of grudging praise

at least perhaps.

 

 

LIFEÕS WORK

 

It turns out perhaps

my lifeÕs work isnÕt what I thought.

It is instead a collection

of rare and valuable football and rugby shirts,

collected lovingly over thirty years

and presently gathering dust

in the darkness of the bedroom

in my rented home.

 

In time I maybe remembered for that

and not the many books IÕve written

and music IÕve recorded.

IÕm leaving behind sports memorabilia

thatÕs worth much more

and will probably be admired more highly

than any of my wayward artistic efforts

have been so far.

 

TheyÕve fallen flat.

TheyÕve failed to hit the mark.

They werenÕt what people wanted.

They were ordinary at best.

My collection of shirts, however,

is remarkable, more so than I am.

 

As a writer I was average.

As a collector I was exquisite,

almost special, one of the best.

IÕd have preferred it the other way round

and I might now be making a living

selling books, not the football and rugby shirts

that I am making money from,

that keeps the wolf from the door,

the drowning man from sinking. 

 

 

CONFESSION

 

The world wasnÕt ready for

a new, angst-ridden poet.

It didnÕt need another outpouring of grief.

People wanted laughter and entertainment;

poets as stand-up comics,

not observers of real life.

 

I didnÕt understand the enormity of my task,

the let-downs and disappointments

that would lie ahead.

I was in denial.

I was eighteen years old.

I thought my assignment was clear,

my path a well-trodden one

by poets and artists before.

 

They didnÕt appreciate

what I had to offer.

I wasnÕt the new voice

the literary establishment was after.

I was branded narcissistic,

my poems insignificant, confessional and trivial,

of little interest to anyone at all.

 

I was only partially put off.

I stuck at it,

kept to my principles

and continued to write,

what I felt moved to write,

poetry that was irrelevant and pointless

for another 30 years at least.

 

© ANDY BOTTERILL

 

Bio:  Andy Botterill was born in Newent, Gloucestershire, and attended Exmouth Community College.  He graduated with a history degree from Swansea University before studying journalism at Cardiff Metropolitan University.  He worked as a journalist for a number of years before moving into arts administration, and has worked variously at an arts centre, arthouse cinema and theatre.  His poetry and short stories have appeared widely in the small presses in this country and abroad, and he has published a number of minor collections of poetry.  As a musician he has released six solo studio albums, available on iTunes, and many more with bands, as well as running the independent record label, Pastime Records Five of his earlier novels and a play are available on Kindle. Andy Botterill is married with two children.