And so London Field’s fucked sky is sealed 

As Martin/John Self is blue-pencilled, returning him 

To Sally, his sister, his father and to Christopher Hitchens, 

His friend. And dead from the same disease too. 

This is the sort of thing which would have befallen 

Keith Talent, if he had been supported by the spell 

Of his surname, and yet perhaps no name alone 


Can defend against the onslaught of fate; 

Indiscriminate, unexpected, with oesophageal cancer 

Death’s herald, as it was for Harold and for Christopher H;

Writers throats proving to be the weak heel which first 

Tripped Achilles, before toppling the towers 

From which these wizards with words met their moat;

The one we all sail when the Ferryman’s oar


Taps our shoulder. Amis would have known. 

He was knowing. Opinion infused all his prose. 

From The Rachel Papers straight through to his last

Inside Story; an autobiographical excavation

Which he labelled a novel, as if in his dying the body

Characterised and reported incident and indictment,

While fear could not stifle the richness and way


His words flowed. Amis was eight parts mainstream

And two, or maybe three counter-culture. As Kingsley’s kid, 

The young rebel sought to unseat state and quo 

With constant critique. Martin as self-made sage 

Was prolific, both in print and as pundit, 

A TV interviewee who said no to the way 

That things were, as he made prose seem psychedelic, 


Or perhaps progressive, as he was both lumpen 

And light frequently. And yet his books are also bright 

Coral reefs through which the reader swims, glimpsing 

Wonders; whether it’s the jargon and jive within Money, 

Time’s Arrow’s smooth horrors, or the spectacular stories 

Inside Einstein’s Monsters which bellow

Like Bellow and teach writing itself what to be.


Amis used language like charge, amping up sense

And syntax. His sentences were set to eleven as he rocked

And roared through his books. He was not as dangerous

As he dared, for nepotistic or not, his position was easier

To source and find than for we others who labour alone 

While the literati, Illuminati-like avoid hooks. And yet 

For artists my age, Amis was also a kind of glam-rock institution, 


More of a Bolan than a Bowie, while slyly epitomising 

His time. Hitchens defiantly rioted and bore a taint 

Of Hendrix about him, and yet Amis and McEwen, 

(John Cale-like in his stories) pre-dated punk’s clamour

As each in turn would define  literary success, along 

With others like Ackroyd, Rushdie, James, Fenton,

Not rebels as such, but a team of societal satirists,


A batch of Peter Cooks in word kitchens, boiling up 

Books and bathos, with notions and potions 

Which could redden the route of mainstreams. 

Martin Amis was also a grand soloist, if not on guitar 

Then on keyboards. If I swap genres, he became 

A kind of Rick Wakeman overdoing the phrase, 

But replete with complete mastery of page as stage 


For performance in which point, if not plot 

Was proven under the glittering cape of technique. 

His books were unique. He wanted to be the English 

Updike, or Bellow. Nabokov, Burgess, or Ballard;

Each one of these men his work stalked. Well, 

Time will tell. His books are escapade 

And entertainment. Sermons from Martin’s 


Mount Olympus, via Notting Hill and New York. 

Fat phrases spun from a slightly built man, 

Whose voice sounded like a kind of whine 

As he eyed you, his gimlet view brimming 

As he questioned each day with high talk.

But now his death marks another peg freed 

From the circus tent world I grew up in. 


As Chat GBT can write novels and albums, too, 

By which words will we set the state, whether quoed 

Or not, we can follow to either measure attainment 

Or equivocate with the birds as we soar above

Expectation and standard. As of now Martin’s missing.

So what is Amiss? The absurd. And the state we’re 

All in, as idiots and AI overtakes us. As we search 


For pleasure, we actually forgoe happiness. And all

For some distant dream that we do not know how 

To capture. Perhaps when thinkers die they locate it. 

Under spectacular skies, pages fountain, their streams 

Feeding futures. Perhaps this is where Martin is. 

For now, we will no longer hear of his teeth, 

Or of his cousin Lucy, one of Fred West’s first victims; 


We will no longer remember a London which sparked 

And fizzed, clinked and fused with Fitzgerald’s New York, 

Or even Hemingway’s Paris, not that Martin had glamour, 

But from such spill he sourced clues which led 

To the great mystery of why it is people ruin every chance 

Granted and why in time we abuse not only the hand

That first helped and held us, but also the sentence


He devotedly served through each ruse. 

He was a writer who won, and who in the fight

With style stayed triumphant. Like him or not, 

Martin’s talent – unlike his character, Keith’s can amuse.

As well as reveal the dark and dare in our standing.

In sitting down Amis travelled as far as words go.


So, salut.  


                                                                       David Erdos 21/5/23

Photo Credit – Antonio Monda 

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