Selected Poem, Will Burns

Thanks, I’ll eat it Here 

The baby boomer method.
A dad taking aim with his record collection.
This one’s for you and all that. I took his choice to mean
I left more than the usual mess.
Got us both arrested
the previous Christmas, for instance.
Un-mended all manner of fences.
Twenty million other things not done.
There was a day I just stopped working –
and of course there was a ‘you‘
who was all I could think about.
It’s different with a little age,
more calm, less sabotage, less blue.
The same lyrics have us talking
now about Lowell for a boy’s name.
If – given all that old chaos – we should still try.

Copyright ©Will Burns

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ABOUT THE POEM

“Thanks, I’ll eat it Here” is from Will Burns’ 2020 collection Country Music. The title of the poem may be immediately recognisable to music fans, as it’s also the title of Lowell George’s 1979 album.

Lowell George (1945-1979) was a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist for cult American rock band Little Feat. Thanks, I’ll eat it Here was his only solo album (he died shortly after its release aged 34, whilst touring the album). George was an impressive musician, and a big character with an indulgent, hedonistic lifestyle.

Burns’ poem imagines being named after the rock star (baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, may have struggled for original names due to the increase in population) and wryly considers whether this would be appropriate; “I took his choice to mean/I left more than the usual mess” downplays the chaotic nature of the musician’s life, as the narrator recounts his own difficulties with arrests, broken fences, and a non-traditional lifestyle.

The poem moves from a focus on self to the significant other, in a reluctant admission of romance (“and of course there was a ‘you‘/who was all I could think about”). Age reduces the recklessness of youth (“more calm, less sabotage, less blue“), although the final line reminds us that a chaotic past and nature may be difficult to escape.

No word is wasted in this exquisite combination of rock and personal history.

ABOUT THE POET

Will Burns is an English writer and poet. He was named as one of the four Faber & Faber New Poets for 2014 with his debut pamphlet. His collection, Country Music, was published by Offord Road Books in 2020. Burns was heralded as one of The Observer’s Top 10 Debut Novelists of 2021 with his debut novel, The Paper Lantern, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. He is poet in residence for Caught by the River magazine.

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