(with thanks to Mathanan Maharasingam)

From the Ministry of Creativity
one day the order went out,
not as a whisper or murmur,
more like a mighty shout,
“We've managed to measure learning
by chopping it up into bits,
if we can't do the same with something else
we're just a bunch of twits.

“We'll try to map out just where it begins,
we'll pin down inspiration,
then circumnavigate genius
and probably intuition.
It can't be much more complex
then measuring an English mile.
It's just the same as counting, isn't it?
in a slightly different style.

“The point is, once you can measure,
you can work out what it's worth
and then you can surely market it
just anywhere on this Earth.
Some say that creativity
is just a magic spark,
but Aims and Objectives are the way
to bring it out of the dark.

“So measure, measure, measure,
that's what we need to do,
then a mystery like creativity
will be easy as counting to two.
All the artists and musicians,
they think they've got something to say,
now we can mark them up for tax
and no one can wriggle away.”

So the Ministry of Creativity,
with a whole range of lengths and shapes,
ordered a million measuring sticks
and lots of different tapes.
Now there were rulers in plastic and wood
and others of stainless steel,
and many a builders' measure stretched
on an automatic reel.

But once the rulers were gathered,
without any more to-do
the strangest thing began to occur -
they paired off two by two.
And there in the Ministry Building,
the rulers, now on the loose,
before the Minister's eyes himself, began to reproduce!

Soon there were babies everywhere,
a few millimetres long,
but then they grew up in inches,
and feet while still very young.
There were more and more, and bigger,
in every Ministry room,
and many with different parents,
as hybrids, began to bloom.

So out of the doors and windows,
they burst upon the street,
where visitors to the Capital,
found thousands under their feet.
They frightened the Horse-guard horses,
they filled Trafalgar Square,
and hardly within a week, it seems,
the rulers were everywhere!

So the Ministry of Creativity
abandoned the project at once,
though never admitted that they had
messed up on such a stunt.
But deep in the world of the artists
where the artists respond as they feel,
Damien and Tracey and all their mates
made sculptures in wood and steel.

Bands like the Magic Numbers
were top of the hit parade
and a national craze in line dancing
put all other forms in the shade.
But those who work in the Ministry
who closed ranks to cover their pain,
said they'd never do any more measuring
with anything, ever again. 4/3/08

Click the link below to read more about the poet
More about Mark

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