Saturday 20 January 2024



A fellow poet once conversed with me

about opening a door, telling me

how to open a certain door

after I had given a reading

at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival.

He went to great lengths to tell me

about the catch in the snib,

an Irish Oxford poet who ought

to know the art of conversation

but I think he overdid it.

I suppose it was his way

of being helpful: not wanting

to be poetically helpful in terms

of my career advancement,

he told me about the catch in the snib

of the door I was about to go through,

the door of my exit from the lounge

of the Long Valley in Winthrop Street

towards the closest toilet in the pub.

At least he was expecting me to return

and not wishing me to be on my way

because I was merely on my way

to the bathroom. But boy did he go

to great lengths explaining the catch in the snib!

He could have explained to me the catch

in the snib of getting an Oxford reading

or the catch in the snib of a reading tour

in the Ivy League Colleges but instead

he explained the catch in the snib

of the door on the way to the Jakes

from the Long Valley Lounge in Cork,

and he was a Cork Poet himself

who lectured in Oxford and could 

have invited me to give a reading 

in Oxford University but instead

he told me about the catch in the snib

of the door on the way to a WC.

Perhaps it was meant as a metaphor

for my excluded state,

an exhortation to wise up.

And indeed, reflecting afterwards 

on the intensity of his admonishments

concerning the importance of knowing

about the catch in the snib 

of the door that led to the Long Valley Gents,

I wondered was it a coded message

somewhat along the following lines:

You need to find a bogus mode of discourse

That deflects things. Tell it slant.

The slanter the better. Whatever you say

Say nothing. Well of course you have

to say something, but don’t be a dipstick.

The snib on the door of Oxford University

is particularly difficult. Always was.

Begin with the snib on the door that leads to the Jakes

 from the Lounge of the Long Valley Pub

and work your way up from there.


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