I Could’ve

By Fahad Al-Ahmoudi

See Palatinate’s interview with Durham spoken-word artist Fahad Al-Ahmoudi here.

I could’ve written you a limerick.

I could’ve written you a ballad.

I could’ve made you a grilled cheese,

Mushy peas or Caesar salad

But I didn’t.

You see I was raised off of

Shakespearean and Petrarchan sonnets.

So, I could’ve written fourteen lines,

With a volta and rhyming couplet.

I could’ve followed a rigid rhyme scheme

Like dancing to a ticking time piece;

I could’ve faked harmony.

I could’ve nicked an artery

And tried to pen my soul.

I could’ve left you rhymes

Like connecting dots for you to solve,

I could’ve

Emphasised my enjambment to

Emphasise my involvement

In an ongoing process

Now see how that rhymes with progress.

I could’ve been a wordsmith

Like Wordsworth,

Showed you what words are worth when you’re feeling worthless,

Could’ve written on purpose

In free verses,

Could’ve sang three verses but I didn’t. I might.

There was a time when I had pretensions of being a pretentious poet:

A literary know it all,

Painting pictures of waterfalls and fountains of youth

In overalls, constructing metaphors

You’d sweat over for

A definitive meaning.

I could’ve…

I could’ve walked down the path less travelled.

I could’ve babbled about fairy lights

Dangling off tree top heights,

Flying handmade kites,

Not a cloud in… the sky.

Oh? You thought that was going to rhyme?

I could’ve written Cohen brother-like films,

Made you climb over Sisyphus-like hills,

Ok, maybe I did. Occasionally.

I could’ve brazenly been defiant

But I chose to be honest.

I could’ve told you tales of Zion

But I chose to be honest.

I could’ve written still lives

But my patience is in a coffin.

While there’s still life in my pen

I could write for revenge, to offend or defend. I still might.

I could’ve not written this poem.

I could have not abbreviated.

I could have held you ransom

To the point I’m trying to make-

A consonant crown to take,

A constant crown to claim.

Words to waste, cut and paste, incite the hate,

We bite the bait,

The strangest fruit is sweet to taste.

I could’ve put the apple down

But I didn’t.

I could’ve left you there

But I’m feeling generous

And chose to end with this-


In the drought people thirst for Hirst’s blood.

And in the flood

they cry out all the things they could’ve done.


Photograph: Tyrone Lewis

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