Those familiar with Micheal Ondaatje’s The English Patient may recall Count Almasy’s tattered copy of Herodotus. He carried that bulking book across the Sahara, filling it with exotic Bedouin cross references, sketches from the Cave of Swimmers, and scrapes from the Royal Geographic Society. It served as a makeshift scrapbook and journal during his time in the dunes.
I had such a book when I was 17. This book was The Gormenghast Novels by Mervyn Peake. Like Count Almasy, I stuffed it fit to bursting with personal artifacts, although my humble computer print-outs of Jonathan Rhys Meyers were by no means as substantial as Count Almasy’s collection of archaeological hand-drawings. But I was young and so completely mesmerized by Jonathan Rhys-Meyer’s malevolent sneer as he climbed, tricked, and romanced his way to the top of the Gormenghast hierarchy that I couldn’t help but collect JRM pictures and paste them next to Mervyn Peake’s description of Steerpike.
So enamoured with that villainous pretty boy was I that I did the nerdiest thing imaginable: I wrote a poem about him. To be precise, the poem was about the complex Steerpike character, who, in many ways, reminded me of a youthful Richard III, but who are we kidding here? It was about Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. Yes, I spent an entire Saturday morning coming up with an appropriate rhyme scheme that would capture the male glory that is JRM.
When you’ve stopped laughing, I would also like to add that, being an economical seventeen year old, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and submitted said poem to a teen poetry contest. All I got out of it was a lousy brass plaque and my name in a who’s who book of teen poets. I was quite the poetess laureate in those days, but I’m retired now and my poem about JRM will never see the light of day. As for the poem’s style, my 17-year old self would call it “Tennyson Lite.” My 23-year old self would classify the style as more of an “inebriated Tennyson.”
So the question remains: after all the hullabaloo about this poem, should I post it in this blog? Dear Reader, do you think you’re ready for such reckless use of metaphor, such haphazard stanza construction? Oh, I think you can live another day without it…