‘Elegy for Nirvana’ by Simon Haworth

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Side A: Kurt Cobain Towards the End of his Life

An improvement on the covers, home demos,
dilapidated practice spaces, DIY
road trips and teenage angst now you’re the darling
of a curious mainstream – hours wasted
in green rooms for repetitive interviews,
playing ‘who am I?’ on the tour bus with post-it-notes,
a melee of clouds across the sky, one flight case
a no show at the airport, and groupies who don’t
miss the irony when the breakdown happens in Rome.
Your unkempt style and attitude fit the bill
and became a trend that carried from Seattle
to Manchester in 1991. You’d never claim
to be the last word and wrote the lyrics
(skewered the hypocrites and bandwagon jumpers,
channeled Beckett) on the fly in a soulless hotel
room or by the placid Wishkah, the banks flaunting
like seams at low tide and its simple reassertion.

“Teenage angst has paid off well …” “This is your time,
how do you feel about such an explosion,
a meteoric rise?” the host probes. Impossible
to tell, aside from the long blonde fringe
and general impassiveness, what your inner-voice
is saying about this tenure as
generational champion you never wanted.
The support group tune up and sound-check, roadies unload.
You started to sketch your life’s thesis in high school,
light years from this picturesque dawn over
Villa Borghese. Back then I was too young
to realise you’d be forever twenty seven
in the Spotify and Youtube playlists I visit
at the desk or after work, to relive your slow
exit from the main stage; one time, at a loose end
and wanting answers, kicking around the offbeat
conspiracy theories that have sprung up since.

Side B: The State of Play, as Evidenced in St Anne’s Square

Drinking less now that the clocks have gone forward
but still slaving away at the thesis
when not hanging around town on a weekday
for no real reason, like now, as the lunch hour comes
and goes, with me watching it from a bench beside
the monument-cum-fountain, where I must have re-
read the one page of this novel a zillion times,
finding each time a sentence that didn’t

fully register, when the busker starts up
again and reels off with aplomb a couple
of covers I recognise from In Utero.
In the pocket of this jacket I haven’t worn
in years, I find not change, but a screwed up receipt
for agua mineral and gasolina,
from Malaga, Spain, which reminds me of that
uncared for garage, a feeling of being lost.

Sleevenotes

Simon Haworth is finishing a PhD in Creative Writing at Manchester University. His poems have previously appeared in The Wolf Magazine and Poetry Ireland Review.