Nothing to Discuss

by Guy Kettelhack
About Poetry Forum
Second Place (tie), July 2009
Judged by George Szirtes

Dying people
sleep a lot.
In a way
it’s a relief. Death
sneaks in like
an incremental
thief, idly filches –

here a tittle –
there a jot – until
the scaffolding
that holds
life up cannot.
erode. Slowly,

as you sit there
watching core
and carapace
implode, you find
you’re glad
you aren’t made
to talk about it.

Babies sleep
a lot as well,
and so does
every cat.
Perhaps there’s
an analogy
in that. But

thinking at
this bedside,
now, feels like
unnecessary fuss.
There’s really
to discuss.

"Nothing to Discuss" seems plain to the point of bluntness at first. It sets out that way, determined to reject the fancy, but under cover it is building up a hoard of internal rhymes that act cumulatively so that when you come to the "fuss / discuss" end rhyme it hits you hard. Returning to the beginning from there helps appreciate the use of the scaffolding metaphor that mounts through two verses, before switching to the analogies of babies and cats. Poetry competitions are not necessarily the best way of judging poets or poetics: the simple straight stand-up poem that holds space with a certain clarity tends to make a strong impression. I liked the way the poem moved into that space. --George Szirtes