Drip, drip, drip. You’ll never know what venom
lies at the bottom of my martini glass.
A sweet temptress with a dry twist,
laced with the poison that
masks as desire.
So go on
It won’t bite.
© Sarah Mullaney
If you’ve made it this far and have not aggressively closed your tab or perhaps spat out your tea / mulled wine / gin (it is Christmas after all), then well done – kudos to you!
Nevertheless, I feel a need to explain my thinking behind ‘Venom’, something that hasn’t seemed necessary for my other poetry. Because yes, this probably does look like a poem about a crazed woman spiking someone’s drink and making the whole ordeal sound inappropriately appealing. But beneath the surface layer was thought, craft… and a very random inspiration.
In the last year I’ve really enjoyed learning about and writing modern poetry, and when I decided I wanted to write a piece called ‘Venom,’ I knew that I wanted it to be led by a strong image. That’s where the martini glass came to mind, and decided to try my hand at concrete poetry, where the poem’s visual appearance matches its subject matter.
Most people will have written concrete poetry at least once in their lives, normally at primary school. I remember having great fun moving my page around as I wrote a poem in a circle, and somewhat ambitiously later attempting one in a kite, to soon discover that the poem’s structure was lost and my kite looked like more of a blob. I was never going to be an artist.
And that’s what I experienced with ‘Venom.’ Structuring just a normal poem can be nothing short of a bloody nightmare, and in my case often leads to passive aggressive tweets about stanza length and rhyme schemes. So being restricted to write within the image of a martini glass was frustrating, but an incredibly valuable experience, ensuring that I only included what was completely necessary.
But this still doesn’t explain why, with a title like ‘Venom’ so rich with imagery and obvious connotations (🐍🐍🐍), I had to go with a deadly cocktail. It is at this point I think you should know that the inspiration behind my poetry is never extravagant and rarely mature. ‘Venom’ was actually inspired by one of my favourite Disney films, the Emperor’s New Groove, when Yzma and her bumbling assistant Kronk attempt to poison Emperor Kuzco. Of course she accidentally gives him the wrong poison and turns him into a llama, and my poetry remains empty of llamas… for now (I’m serious, a llama will probably inspire me one day).
So there’s some of my thought patterns and processes behind a seemingly dark poem, that’s probably not as dark as you thought. I loved writing in a whole new style and attempting concrete poetry, and I’ll definitely be writing more in the New Year. Speaking of which, I hope you have a wonderful New Year and it brings you everything you wish for. 🙂
Would you like to hear more of the inspiration behind my poetry? Let me know and I’ll explain the thoughts from some of my other poems 🙂