Jo Kelen Headline Draft Three

28 Jun

right so, there’s tones of scanning/odd lines which are silly which I am still sifting through tweaking. Thing I really need feedback on is the content of the last two stanzas – this is kinda based on a true story and I don’t want to go into detail about what’s wrong with ‘the elephant’ as its not really my place and would be  a dick-move. however a couple of you guys said, quite rightly, that I was hiding behind humour a bit, and representing the whole issue as not serious, so I’ve had a go at making it a bit more serious, whilst not giving too much away. Let me know what you think – as i said not finished and needs a lot of tidying up all over the place, but i really want content feedback – elsewhere in the poem too is also obviously useful.


Duck and Elephant

There once was a duck who when she was at school

Was literally the definition of everything uncool.

Flapping her wings, she’d waddle about,

And never quite managed to figure out

Why no other animals were friends with her,

Told her to shut the hell up or they’d rip out her feathers;

Bound barb-wire round her beak so she couldn’t make a sound,

She eventually merged into the background.

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so


There once was an elephant who when he was at school

Was literally the definition of everything cool.

Brush in his trunk, he painted the most beautiful things

That caressed the frets under everyones’ strings

Longing for him, but he didn’t care

His mind was always somewhere elsewhere

Because they were boring and tedious and dull

Their anal bable rattled around his skull

Making him frustrated, more than a little angry

Counting the seconds till he would be free

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so


At an afterschool writing club this mix match met

Elephant went with a couple of friends

Duck went alone with a poem or two

She wrote all the time, though no one else knew

As she read them out the elephant laughed

Said ‘duck I think you’re completely daft’

Ruffled her feathers with his long grey trunk

When you wrote that stuff were you high or drunk?

I wrote them she said to make myself smile

And forget my life, if for only a while

She slumped at the shoulders and hung her neck low

He said ‘you’re the coolest duck that ever I’ve known

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so


Elephant took her out to a club one night

Duck said, waaaa but this is a school night

I’ve never been to a club, everyones so tall

He said, ‘for once in your life, stop thinking you’re small!’

He picked her up with his trunk and poped her on his head

Wow the airs so much thinner up here, she said

He bought her some drinks and she drank quite a lot

That she was small and uncool she quickly forgot

They danced like maniacs until the club closed

Staggered home eyes blistering as the stern sun rose

Then he held her feathers back as she threw up on the street

Twas never her art to be subtle and discrete

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so


Soon it was time for duck to go to uni

And the whole thing had her more than a little broody

What if they all hate me and think I’m annoying

You are annoying he said, but at least you aint boring

I don’t want to end up all sad and alone

He said, you know I’ll always be on the other end of the phone

Don’t forget me then, she said, i’m really gonna miss you

Darling I’m an elephant, forget we don’t do

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so


A year on now and Duck’s doing alright

Working, writing drinking and tearing up the night

Calls him up when she can, often for boy advice

A subject on which suave Elephant is infinitely wise

But for the elephant he cannot sleep, gets hounded by his shadow

Delious from coke and one night stands, stops picking up the phone

Phone keeps ringing, duck on the other end

Pick up pick up, please I need my best friend. Voicemail yet again.

Meet up over Christmas, duck realised something was wrong

When she saw his long grey trunk once magnificent and strong

Was covered in scars where he’d cut himself

She said why’d you never tell me, I would’ve helped

He slumped at the shoulders and hung his neck low

She said, you’re the coolest elephant that ever I’ve known

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so

No I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t so


She put the kettle on threw his bong out the window

Pulled his head to her chest and rocked him too and fro

Asked him, if you were a pie, what kind would you be

He said, avocado and toothpaste with a bitchumin gravy

[laughs] ‘that’s quite good’, ‘yea’ he says, ‘I know’

They giggled for ages though each felt hollow

Then she said: ‘You’ll be alright, we’ll see this one through’

‘We?’ ‘Well yea, that’s what best friends do,’

‘I’m scared,’ he said, ‘what I’ll do when I’m sad and alone’

She said,  you feel that way, then you pick up the phone

So you can spout some inane rubbish in my ear?

She said, ‘yea stop pretending its not what you’d wanna hear

You might feel sad, fair play, but you’re not alone’

‘Now yea, but you’re going back to Nottingham tomorrow’

In that dark dingy room two hearts embrace in limbo

Three words never said, yet neither dare let go

I needn’t say it, she thinks, you already know

No I needn’t say it, you already know.


One Response to “Jo Kelen Headline Draft Three”

  1. mouthypoets July 1, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Hi Jo,

    -Debris here, so as i said yesterday TOTALLY LOVE THIS PIECE. It felt like it really had everyone, and the rhyme and rhythm is really working for it.
    -“anal bable rattled round his skull” for me it is this kind of line that are at the core of the brilliance of this poem. When the rhyme and content come together to create something new, fresh and rhythmic. Love it.
    -Really like the concrete actions that happy; them dancing like maniacs in the club, an elephant and duck in a creative writing class… brilliant!
    -I love that elephants are infinitely wise on boys… suave, of course.
    – I think its a good detail that he has cut his trunk… I feel like “cut himself” doesn’t really do the image justice for it to properly hit the audience… might you be able to add a little bit more detail of how she saw the scars and realised that they were healed skin from cuts? Just a few lines.
    -Bong line… great but I also think it is why it is important for the cutting line/image to really penetrate before you bring the humour back in. I am going to send you a poem that does this really well via Facebook… so look out.
    -I bloody love the pie line… again I think there needs to be a contrast “we felt hollow” isn’t concrete enough against such a funny concrete line you need something with equal tangible sadness and pain…?
    -I know you said you don’t want to give away the anonymity of the character, but it can be something simple and symbolic rather than true, it can be the way you plaster up the cuts on his trunk so he can drink water again, or the way you hide all the poems you write about him under his left ear… maybe use the elephant and duck metaphors more? How do ducks and elephants show effection? Do a bit of research 🙂

    -Title… Duck & Elephant… is that what you are going with? It feels like maybe it could be working harder to add meaning to the poem? Maybe a fact about one of the animals or something? I am not sure, mainly poking you because it seems like maybe you haven’t thought about it?

    -Why do you capitalise
    At the start of every
    Line? … I ask because if you ever want to submit to magazines, this is something seen as ‘old fashioned’ and also because I think it can be jarring wen the capital letter comes before the end of a sentence. Just something to keep in mind.

    -The refrain “no I wouldn’t say it if it wern’t so”… I want to challenge you to try the poem without it… the narrative is strong enough I think it is worth seeing what impact it would have because when I was listening to you read it and reading it now on the page it seems more like a dramatic crutch rather than something actually helping the story. The story is strong enough – just give it a go and see what happens? I think it will push you to give little details of pain and effection rather than repeating that line.

    -Why is the sun stern?

    -broody for me means wanting a baby… you might want to choose a word that doesn’t have that connotation

    1. I think you could use the duck and elephant metaphore more, I find researching animals can be really useful when talking about pain… For example here is one of my favourite poems…

    …obviously you are doing nothing this dark but you could be maximising elephant and duck facts more than you are to explore the serious moments.

    2. Redundancies. It feels like overall there is 10% more words than is needed, and sometimes seem to be focusing more on hitting the line than maximising the content of every word, line and stanza. Here is me playing around with the first stanza to highlight which lines could be doing more work:

    There was a duck who when at school,
    was orange feet, top-collar beak uncool.
    Flapping feathers and waddling about

    she’d not managed to figure out
    why no other animals were friends with her,
    why they threatened to rip out her feathers

    bound barb-wire round her beak.
    Call her mum a roast chicken.
    She couldn’t speak.

    There too was an elephant who when at school
    was wobbly ear, enormous pack-lunch uncool.
    Brush in his trunk, he painted beauty into things

    -I want to challenge you to go through the poem and convert it into 3 line stanza’s and make sure every word isn’t just serving a rhythm and rhyme purpose but also adds detail to the narrative of the piece. I think this will push you to cut the piece down and make the narrative as clear as possible. Watch out for cliches, stock phrases and redundancies when you do this because I was picking up on quiet a few and when you are so good at writing original stuff (all outlined in the love session) these really stand out and need to be cut!

    I hope this helps!

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