Spewers and Bleeders

Some writers ram verbal sandwiches
right down their gullets; they gobble
sources, librarians, sometimes they stuff
whole paragraphs past their windpipes,
use a plunger to make space. Margins
vanish as they cram a whole lifetime
straight through the cakehole. They binge;
bulimic, they rampage through sculleries,
raiding the far larder of experience.

Nothing's untouched. Crumbs are bunched,
reconstituted, topped with cherries, swallowed:
globulating, the whole wet mess melts
generously into the sucking oesophagus.
Dawn strikes on the kitchen cupboard,
elevenses with unwary adverbs, a lunch
stuffed with sententious sentences,
all day long they madly macerate
poor bloody pronouns. And then the rip

tide at night. They lean over, throw up
their blank hands, and deluge the page.
Their gorges rise. Beneath custardy moons,
they scribble it all out, frantic, they
sweat secrets, belch out indefinite
articles, fill shrill demented quires.
Burping, they empty their bulging stores
better than enemas. The pages crumple,
heavy with the green foam of poetry.

But some types, less extravagant,
tuck neat napkins under their chins
and nibble wafers of occasional breeze.
Thus undernourished, they dust their studies,
take notes, line the pens up like syringes,
and wait for vacant predicates to fit
their subject verbs. Here is no hurry.
They may pass months in a rictus,
faintly conscious of their razor trays.

Observe one nick his skin, the trickle
of thin, fresh image, dabbed at gently,
no scars. The page is laid like tablecloth,
catching the rare spillage, the interesting
stain. Damask is flecked with dark red
ink, ink. The truths speckle their linen,
samite, silk, the cool white cottons:
there are perfect eddies, and calligraphies
littered with tildes, umlauts, exotic accents.

Passions are rationed, rational. They cut
silhouettes from the night, lay bare
the bone of the matter; they are deft,
turning nouns neatly on their spines,
stripping the frogged fancy from the body
like undertakers. From deliberate scalpels
flow ribbons of simple sense, quick thoughts
which clarify each other, and operate upon
readers like scrubbed, impassive surgeons.

Spewers and bleeders. Yes, but others
spring readily to mind - take, for instance,
suckers, soakers, drifters, grifters,
drafters, sticklers, pickers and stealers,
skinflinted misers, celibates, the mad
cashiers, bluffers, round-robins, rinsers,
several with chamois wallets, and also
sneakers who breed on the taller crawlers.
There are far too many to type.

My cortex certainly churns like fury, true.
Words tumble, slurry, blow mucous plugs
clean and free. I retch wretchedly,
returning the compliments of one season
well into the next. The forced roar
deafens. Yet I yearn also to scratch an
unpredictable nib in thin dribs of italic.
The depth in the well's no different, really,
and spewers are only lucky bleeders.

From the book Robinson Crusoe's Bank Holiday Monday

Some writers are spewers, some bleeders, according to Ian McEwan.