by Brendan Strong

I’m trying out something new. Another sort of “exercise” in writing every day. This time, I struck on the challenge of writing poetry that met the rules of “Just a Minute” from BBC Radio 4.

In short, the poems must last 1 minute (if read. While I am not a performance poet, I am taking my lead from a list of words per minute in TED talks, as I believe this a fair number), and without repetition, hesitation or deviation. I’m loosely translating these rules to read “Repetition” – using any word more than once. “Hesitation” as dramatic changes in rhythm. Deviation is a little more tricky, as poetry is often deviant. For the purposes of this exercise I am considering it to mean I have to keep the subject matter tight. 

I don’t know how well this will go, it’s for fun. 

The subject matter (title) of the poem will come from the Dictionary.com word of the day. Although, I’ll take suggestions if anyone wants to give one. Also, I’d be honoured if anyone wanted to join me in this folly. I’m not trying to create world-changing material. Rather, it’s about exercising the imagination.


Takes more imagination when everything’s remote control“*

In this country town, Wednesday, market day,
Cows move to mart on farmers’ trailers lowing
Pot holing, juddering along, leaving behind
Only tyre tracks, chucked muck. Shite smells linger

No longing for yesterday among us today
Dogs’ walkers, commuters, barking at cars
Screwed up curious faces, lazily investigating
Here, there, everywhere. Later someone

Might piss against a lamppost “like an animal!”
Walking home alone quiet off the leash,
Giving it a lash midweek, why not? Tomorrow is
Another, probably unworthy of nostalgia

Hidden by tall walls, barred gates, concrete,
Steel. Cattle moo boding oven timer beeps
Watching people passing daylight hours, waiting
With everybody’s fate milked human kindness

Fattened, grass fed sedentary, maybe ready
Lifted, stunned, felled. Meat your destiny
Great use properly kept, either alive or dead
Any earthly corner will buy if you’re selling right

*This is from the song Wicklow Hills, by Pierce Turner, perhaps best known as performed by Christy Moore