Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Jordan Hamel’s ‘You’re not a has-been, you’re a never was!’

You’re not a has-been, you’re a never was!

I used to think I was meant for great things

until I nearly died choking on ‘Very Thin’ Vogels

watching The Mighty Ducks: D2 after

chairing a Flash Fiction Zoom conference.

Like God reaching into to my Scrabble-bag mouth

dropping mixed-grain marmite letters onto my

Iphone spelling out ‘stick to poetry’ immediately

ending the game and the indoor rhino stampede.

Fear of mediocrity paralysis is a privilege

I should be cancelled for. Yeah you can

write ‘Qi’ with your remains but what

have words done for you lately?

Most things that happen are distraction

and I think that’s………………..     fine???

Casting spells to liquefy eternal rigidity

is exhausting and historically underfunded.

Purpose is the lure of friendship

senior kids sell you in the gym.

before the dodgeballs, as if hope

wasn’t a more sustainable cruelty.

Sylvia Plath had a tree and she burned

a limb in mourning for every wasted day.

If you split me in half the sap would taste

of honeyed-fear and dead potential.

Some poets make shit arborists.

Some poets make great scrabble pals.

I don’t know why I don’t do more

of the things that make me happy,

writing my way into contextual relevance,

Soy and Linseed sliding down my

well-lubed throat, Words with Friends

with literary acquaintances, Emilio Estevez

slapping pucks and dreams at plucky teens

I’m not convinced the small things are

at fault for keeping me from what i want

like Sylvie with time and no forest

I grew them to keep me away.

quack, quack, quack

Jordan Hamel

Jordan Hamel is a Pōneke-based writer, poet and performer. He was the 2018 New Zealand Poetry Slam champion and represented NZ at the World Poetry Slam Champs in the US in 2019. He is the co-editor of Stasis Journal and co-editor of a forthcoming NZ Climate Change Poetry Anthology from Auckland University Press. He is a 2021 Michael King Writer-in-Residence and has words published in The Spinoff, Newsroom, Poetry New Zealand, Sport, Turbine, Landfall, and elsewhere.


2 thoughts on “Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Jordan Hamel’s ‘You’re not a has-been, you’re a never was!’

  1. Pingback: Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Jordan Hamel’s ‘You’re not a has-been, you’re a never was!’ – Pattimouse

  2. Pingback: Poetry Shelf write-ups: Jordan Hamel on Lōemis Epilogue | NZ Poetry Shelf

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