Good Advice in Verse for Lovers

by William Nicholson

Over the years I’ve amused myself with writing light verses on the subject that has long interested me: the grand muddle we make of the dealings between men and women. My model has been the Cautionary Verses written by Hilaire Belloc, whose self-penned epitaph is:
 
‘When I am dead, I hope it may be said: 
His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.’

 

THE VERSES

To the Reader

The Fundamental Problem

The Crocodile

Dying to Meet You

The Pendulum

One Night Stand Too Many

The Amber Secret of Success

Lost in the Friend Zone

He Takes Her Hand

Being Stray

Joker God

What He Did After She Had Left

Men to Avoid at Parties

Sixteen Ways to say No to Sex

Living Together

The Queen of Love

Henrietta, Who Thought There Might Be Someone Better

Three Sure Steps

Song of Contraceptives

Penistics

Cheating Again

Why Won’t He Commit?

The End of an Affair

Heartbreak is a Kindness

The Lost Boys

Zero Hours Contract

She Grows Up

Being Born and After

 

To the Reader


Young lovers are such sorry fools:
They play a game that has no rules,
And don’t know why they win or lose.
Yet there are patterns, there are clues,
And there are lessons to be learned.

Like soldiers from a war returned,
We veterans have tales to tell
Which rightly told will serve you well
When you march off to fight. 

And yet
I know you’ll soon enough forget
My warning words. Once more you’ll make
The same wrong turn, the same mistake.
Experience alone can teach
The hard-earned wisdom that I preach
In lines of neatly-rhyming verse.

Read on and say, ‘It could be worse.
His rhymes are good. His verses scan.
He seems to be a thoughtful man.
But what a mess he’s made of life!
How glad I am I’m not his wife!’

 


The Fundamental Problem


Oh, what is to be done with men?
All they ever want is sex.
Relationships bewilder them.
Any intimacy wrecks

Their fragile equilibrium.
They call it ‘being needy’, then
They’re back to needing sex again -
Oh, what is to be done with men?

Are women never satisfied?
They want a man to take the lead,
And stand up tall and show some pride,
And be ambitious, and succeed -

But also he must empathise,
And try to show his gentler side,
And not be spineless when he tries –
Are women never satisfied?

What Man desires, he gets, he spends.
What Woman wants takes time, it grows.
She’s just beginning as he ends,
And when at last she comes, he goes.

The fundamental problem’s this:
The sexes meet each other’s needs,
But loving turns out hit-and-miss
When lovers drive at different speeds.

It’s time alone builds women’s pride,
While men lose power each passing day.
With her advance and his delay
They meet at last, and side by side
They make their amatory way.

 
The Crocodile


One Christmas day, when I was small,
Beneath the Christmas tree
There stood a wooden Noah’s Ark,
A Christmas gift for me.

Its roof was holly-berry red,
Its sides were ivy green.
It was the finest floating home
That I had ever seen.

I don’t remember Noah much,
Or Mrs Noah, his wife.
It was the wooden animals
That shared my childhood life.

Rhinoceri and elephants,
Giraffes and kangaroos,
My little wooden animals
That always came in twos.

The lion and the lioness
Looked very much the same.
I didn’t need to know their sex
To play my childhood game.

The camel had a hump-backed friend,
The pig a piggy mate.
No animal was on its own,
Each had a duplicate.

They marched across the playroom plains,
They climbed the mountain stairs,
They sailed my duvet’s rocking waves,
And always in their pairs.

But then one day, I don’t know how,
An animal was gone.
One crocodile had disappeared
And one was left alone.

I told the lonely crocodile
That I would be its friend.
I lay down on the playroom floor
And played at let’s-pretend.

But as I played it smiled at me,
And suddenly I knew
My crocodile was all alone
And I was lonely too.

I hadn’t thought until that day
That I was on my own,
But that one smile revealed a truth
I knew I’d always known.

I put away my Noah’s Ark.
I didn’t want to see
That all the animals had friends
But Crocodile and me.

I wonder why we’re taught when young
That creatures go in pairs.
Apart from sex we’re all alone,
And no one really cares.

I’m older now, and I’ve outgrown
The playthings of the child.
But still I see the crocodile
And I know why he smiled.
 
Dying to Meet You


Dying to meet you
Funny to think I
Don’t even know your name
Somewhere you’re out there
In a crowd, smiling
And here I am, doing the same.

Dying to know you
Funny to think there’s a
Room where we’re going to meet.
You’ll buy me a drink
And I’ll laugh far too much
And we’ll go somewhere quiet to eat.

Dying to tell you
I’ve been so lonely
Up to the day that we met.
So much to talk about
Sharing our memories
And oh, so much more to forget.

Dying to love you
Funny to think our
Children will look just like you.
Your eyes in their eyes
And when I kiss them
I’ll be kissing you too.

When we grow older
Funny to think we’ll
Forget how our lives used to be
I’ve waited for you
For so long, like forever
And so long you’ve waited for me.

Dying without you
Funny to think I’m
Watching my life going past.
But somewhere you’re out there
And maybe tomorrow
You’ll walk through that doorway
And see me here, smiling -
 
And we can start living at last.
 

The Pendulum


First they meet, a girl, a boy,
And for a little while enjoy
A love affair of equal needs:
The love they show each other breeds
Security, and they relax.
But when in time some hairline cracks
Begin to show, a hurtful word,
A mutual friend too much preferred,
It turns the key, it winds the spring:
The pendulum begins to swing.

Whichever one is least secure,
The girl perhaps, to reassure
Herself that nothing is amiss
Extends a smile, a touch, a kiss,
Declares her love and asks for his.
But nature being what it is
The very asking disinclines
The boy to give the needed signs.
Because the girl is now afraid
Of losing him, the boy is made
To feel increasingly secure.
The less he gives to her the more
She gives to him. She starts to cling,
Her dignity diminishing.
She hates herself, she sulks, she cries,
She watches him with wounded eyes.
Predictably the boy prefers
Less trying company to hers,
And leaves her more and more alone.
Abandoned by the telephone,
She loses hope. He doesn’t ring.
The pendulum completes a swing.

She dries her eyes. She faces facts.
Admitting failure counteracts
Her misery. She starts to plan
The ways to get another man.
She doesn’t tell her boy in case
He loves her still, but from her face
The boy detects her change of heart.
So half together, half apart,
She seems to need him less and less,
While he begins to reassess
Her value; then to realise
How little good is in goodbyes.
Relentless down its former track
The pendulum comes creaking back.

Too late he starts to demonstrate
Affection; ah, too late, too late.
His loving words complete her cure,
And feeling needed, feeling sure
Of his attention, she forgets
Those kisses, touches, smiles; and lets
The old expressive habit fade.
The boy it is who’s now afraid
Of losing her: with words, with deeds,
The more he gives, the less she needs.
And when he offers everything,
A life’s commitment and a ring,
She turns him down; she’d rather be
Forever loved, forever free.
 

One Night Stand Too Many


She wore her hand-embroidered jeans, the ones that hurt her thighs.
He kept his leather jacket on and told her pointless lies.
She smiled because he smiled and never heard a word he said,
She fancied him beside her and a bright new life ahead.
He fancied her beside him on his legless double bed.

He walked her to her basement flat. She couldn’t find her keys.
They stopped beneath a street-lamp, orange-faced and ill at ease.
She hadn’t any reason to, or any reason not,
So she asked him in for coffee, made the real way, in a pot.
She brewed and then they screwed and then they drank it, still quite hot.

He hadn’t much to talk about, she didn’t answer much,
There was the stereo to listen to and cigarettes to touch.
Sure it hadn’t happened this time but another time it might.
They both believed in waiting for their Miss and Mister Right.
He hadn’t brought his toothbrush so he didn’t stay the night.
 

The Amber Secret of Success


You’ll never get a man by saying no.
You’ll never hold him after you’ve said yes.
Avoid the red of Stop and green of Go.
Embrace the Amber Secret of Success.

Amber murmurs, ‘Soon, but not quite yet.’
Amber says it’s coming when it’s not.
Amber means you’re playing hard to get
When all the time you’re wanting to be got.

When the phone rings let it ring a while.
Be careful to be careless when you dress.
Greet him with a blank forgetful smile.
That’s the Amber Secret of Success.

Always say you’ve got another date
For every evening that he asks you out.
When at last you meet him, turn up late.
To be in love he needs to be in doubt.

If he says he wants to stay the night,
Never yield, but never quite refuse.
Say the monthly timing isn’t right,
But say it so he knows it’s an excuse.

When desperation drives him to propose,
Hesitate for days, then acquiesce.
By simply alternating Stops and Gos
The Amber Secret guides you to success.

The Amber Secret ceases to apply
The moment that he buys that wedding ring.
Then all you have to do is love the guy,
And loving someone’s quite another thing.
 

Lost in the Friend Zone


I love a boy but dare not say
In case I drive his love away.
I’d rather just stay friends.
But what if from timidity
He hides a secret love for me?
The silence never ends.

I’m on the watch for tell-tale signs,
But modern friendship undermines
The dating rules of old.
My number’s on his mobile phone,
He smiles, but not for me alone,
He’s hot and then he’s cold.

One night I even shared his bed
When I was drunk. I think he said
‘I love you’ as we kissed.
The trouble is I can’t be sure
And sex these days can mean no more
Than one last train you missed.

So why not ask him? Why not say
‘You light my fire! You make my day!’
At least that way he’d know.
But what if he can’t meet my eyes,
And hesitates when he replies,
And says he’s got to go?

The shame, the burning shame I’d feel.
I’d rather perish than reveal
A love that’s not returned.
And so I haunt the friendship zone,
Not quite together, not alone,
The lesson never learned.

I know it but don’t want to know,
The way you start’s the way you go,
The two roads rarely meet.
The way of friends is broad and bright,
While lovers choose to walk by night
A darker stranger street.
 

He Takes Her Hand


I now send
A hand towards your hand
Not daring much
And careful to defend
The mission from appearing grand.
Yet this slight touch
As near a coming home, it seems to me,
As when the voyage ends, the months at sea,
And ancient sailors land.

Receive with care
These timid fingers, this
Adventure of an arm.
Only that you share
The sin of knowing frees
Me from the sin of harm.
And you have some time known
That each of us has always been, and is,
Alone.
 
Being Stray


What’s your favourite colour?
Children like to say
Yesterday was orange
Feels like blue today.

Who’s your favourite film star?
People like to say
Yesterday was Angie
Feels like Brad today.

What’s your favourite gender?
How am I to say?
Yesterday was female
Feels like male today.

What’s your orientation?
Are you straight or gay?
How am I to answer?
It changes day by day.

Not entirely straight, then,
Nor entirely gay
If you need a label
Think of me as stray.

Am I indecisive?
Does that make me strange?
Seems to me that living
Is everlasting change.

Seems to me that loving’s
Not down to body parts
It’s minds that do the meeting
And loving’s done with hearts.

So all you human beings
Come on out to play
No more foolish questions
Be happy being stray.
 

Joker God


I fell in love at seventeen, the boy was twenty-four.
The first night hurt a little, but the last night hurt me more.
We’d got on fine together, hardly ever disagreed,
He didn’t need to leave me, least, I didn’t see the need.
I had a cry and asked him why and this is all he’d say:
‘I’ll love you if you want me but I won’t go all the way.’

I thought the world had ended but it turned out I was wrong.
I met a boy at college and we kind of got along.
I took him home one weekend and my mother baked a cake,
It was restful and domestic which I guess was my mistake.
He told me Sunday afternoon he didn’t plan to stay.
‘I’ll love you if you want me but I won’t go all the way.’

If I had Cinderella’s chance the slipper wouldn’t fit.
Loving’s never worked for me, though Christ I’ve worked for it.
Now I believe in Joker God, he’s taught me to believe,
And I believe that giving love for ever is naïve.
The ones who’ll never leave you are the ones you want to leave.

So hear my prayer, O Joker God, so hear how well I pray:
‘I’ll love you if you want me, but I won’t go all the way.’
 

What He Did After She Had Left


Just as how we lay all night, just as how
You printed all your body over mine, day brings
No change at all: I feel you with me still.

Although you’ve gone out of my sight for now,
I can no more go about doing normal things
As if you’ve left a space, some hours to fill,

I can no more go about my usual day.
I feel you by me still, the way last night we lay.
 

Men to Avoid at Parties


The Virgin

Procrastinate with virgins till at least your later thirties:
In thought and deed they’re spotless, it’s the bleeding heart that dirties.
In pursuing you he’s wooing your distinctive silhouette – 
As a Woman, yes, he’ll love you; as a human you’re a threat.
If you let him get the ticket you’ll be luggage for his trips,
First his goddess, then his life-size doll with lubricated lips.

Snags emerge in loving virgins and it’s best that you should know:
He’ll either never touch you or he’ll never let you go.


The Bastard

You can always tell the bastard by his restless searching eyes,
Those eyes that still philander while his hands are on your thighs.
He isn’t much to look at but if he should look at you
He’s so confident you want him, what’s so shaming is, you do.
He gets his sex with rubber cheques, he pays out with neglect,
Yet the truth about the bastard is he has no self-respect.
He needs the repetition of submission to his will
To discover from each lover that he has some value still.

His excuse is he seduces to reduce his self-disgust.
He’s procuring reassurance; but he likes to call it lust.


The Thinker

The thinker looks incongruous at a party of this kind,
But his silence is deceptive: he’s loquacious in his mind.
He notes his own emotions with devotion and a pen
In columns headed What I Felt, and Why I Felt It Then.
He wants you for adventure, but adventure in the head:
Observation with the lights on, then analysis in bed.
He’ll write down every word you say to find what it conceals,
Conclude that you don’t love him and then write down how he feels.

By taking what’s available and only adding thought
The thinker turns relationships into spectator sport.


The Father 

The father with his jacket off would rather have it on,
But looking ill at ease is fundamental to his con.
He’s growing old, he’s going bald, his small talk isn’t witty:
The effect has been perfected just to generate your pity.
You find you’re telling secrets you don’t even tell your journal
And all because the way he looks at you feels so paternal.
Of course your daddy loves you, but it isn’t quite like this,
And if you let him kiss you it won’t be a daddy kiss.

Avoid the Freudian desire to sleep with older men –
When you grow up he’ll want another little girl again.
 

Sixteen Ways to Say No to Sex


I’m not in the mood.

I’ve injured my back.

I’ve a hell of a week from tomorrow.

Two of my best friends have just broken up,
And I’m having to manage their sorrow.

I’m feeling too hot,
Like a fever. No, not
The way that you’re starting to think.

I’ve bitten my tongue.

I have to call Mum.

I’ve had too much vodka to drink.

I’m still feeling hurt
After seeing you flirt
With that bitch with the ludicrous breasts.

I’ve too much to do.

It’s all right for you,
But I have to plan for our guests.

My therapist says I need time on my own,
To silence the voice in my head.

I’ve taken a pill to relax me for sleep.
Don’t wake me, just creep into bed.

I’m feeling quite sore,
If we do it much more
I’ll get my cystitis again.
It may not seem much,
But I’m saying don’t touch.
Remember those long months of pain?

You can’t flip a switch and expect me to lech,
Whenever you start to feel randy.
Go run a hot shower,
I’m sure you know how a
Dispenser of soap comes in handy.

It’s that time of month, and you’ll just have to wait.
Sometimes it’s more than a week.

So kiss me goodnight -
No, don’t hold me too tight -
Just give me a peck on the cheek.

You look so forlorn!
Go and play with your porn.
Hey, I love you, however it seems.
I’ll make it all right,
It just won’t be tonight.

So meanwhile, sleep tight and sweet dreams.


 

Living Together


Living together is not what it seems
When you’re actually living apart.
Alone in your flatlet, alone with your dreams,
How little you know of the cruel extremes
That result from the clash of opposing regimes:
For habit is stronger than heart.

He’ll wake you before you’re accustomed to wake.
You like music. He turns on the news.
He strains on the loo till it’s too late to take
Your habitual bath. Eating breakfast he’ll make
Such deafening sounds that your head starts to ache:
But a man cannot choose how he chews.

Together alone in the evening you’ll find
That you’ve not got all that much to say.
You want to do nothing, but feel undermined
By his presence, a watcher, a spy for mankind.
You can’t even soak in the bath to unwind
As he’s locked in there, straining away.

When you’re sleepy in bed he’ll be wanting to read,
With the aid of a very bright light.
At the end of the chapter, with merciful speed,
He’ll wake you and take you, and easily freed
From sexual frustration, his sleep guaranteed,
He’ll ignore you and sleep through the night.

Why, you may ask, do so many submit
To so sorry a state of affairs?
The answer it seems is that man is unfit
To find pleasure alone, and yet hasn’t the wit
To give pleasure to others. Too craven to quit,
He chooses to suffer in pairs.
 

The Queen of Love


Her father’s love was natural, but rather overdone.
She only liked to play with him because she always won. He made a silver crown for her from baking-foil and string
And called her ‘little princess’. So he was daddy king.

At school they weren’t as nice to her as daddy thought they ought.
‘The child lacks perseverance,’ they complained in her report.
It’s true the way she used her paints she let the colours run,
Impatient for the praise that always came when she was done.

‘Daddy, doesn’t teacher love me? Why can’t she be kind?
I couldn’t do the test today and had to stay behind.’
‘Never mind the teacher, princess, never mind the test.
I love you just for being you, so I love you the best.’

Just an eager little girl; just a father’s pride;
But oh! the dreadful damage that it did to her inside.
The little princess learned by heart the lesson of her youth:
The truth is I am worthless, but love conceals the truth.

Sex arrived like Christmas, like a prize without a race.
Other men than daddy said she had a pretty face.
But when they said they loved her, love, the beautiful disguise,
She knew that she was worthless still, and had not won a prize.

You and I may meet her at the height of her success
And envy her, a queen of love; but will we ever guess
How every man who loves her locks her in a cardboard town
Made long ago? And that she knows how paper is her crown?
 

Henrietta, Who Thought There Might Be Someone Better


When Henrietta’s boyfriend Tom
First took her to the student prom
She fantasised her future life
With Tom her husband, she his wife.
It was her secret prayer.
But time went by, and Henrietta
Thought there might be someone better
Out there.

When Henrietta first met Dick
Something deep inside went click
He taught her things to do in bed
That made her scorn the life she’d led
And buy new underwear.
But passion fades, and Henrietta
Thought there might be someone better
Out there.

When Henrietta first saw Harry –
‘He’s the man I’m going to marry!’
She wanted children. So did he.
It helped that he was said to be
A multi-millionaire.
But money palls, and Henrietta
Knew there must be someone better
Out there.

Our Henrietta’s older now
And on her own. She’ll tell you how
All men are either wimps or jerks
And neither love nor marriage works
But hey, she doesn’t care.
She’ll get a pet. For Henrietta
Knows there’s always something better
Out there.

 

Three Sure Steps


You men who through Love’s oysters blindly seek
For sexual ecstasy, the hidden pearl,
Need nothing more to reach that breathless peak
Than Three Sure Steps of sexual technique.
(Though first of course you’ll need to find a girl.)

Number One, create the atmosphere,
For passion has its birthplace in the head.
All the aids required are listed here,
The dimmer-lights, the sounds, the bedroom gear.
(Though first you’ll need a girl to share the bed.)

Number Two, the touching, tells you whether
The senses are in perfect readiness.
Baths are helpful, taken hot, together,
And mutual caresses with a feather.
(Though first you’ll need a girl you can caress.)

Number Three: with actual penetration
It’s most important that you learn to wait
As clitoral-vaginal stimulation
Demands a certain minimum duration.
(Though first you’ll need a girl to stimulate.)

Three Sure Steps: a triple-barrelled shot
From nowhere to the sexual front rank.
Success is guaranteed you if you’ve got
A lovely girl who loves you. (If you’ve not,
Forget the Three Sure Steps and have a wank.)
 

Song of Contraceptives


You know how much I love you, babe, 
But babies are a trap.
Show you love me too and get
A contraceptive cap.

Loving with a rubber cap
Brings forethought to each hug.
You’ll have to wait to turn the tap
Till I’ve put in the plug.
But only tell me that I am
Your partner on life’s path
And I will get a diaphragm
And you can have your bath.

You know how much I love you, babe, 
You know I always will.
Show you love me too and take
The contraceptive pill.

The pill is a deceiver,
The eager womb, beguiled,
Believes the chemicals conceive a
Non-existent child.
But if it doesn’t matter
Taking drugs when I’m not ill
Till I’m sadder, sorer, fatter,
Then I’ll go on the pill.

You know how much I love you, babe, 
And we don’t want to spoil
A love as good as this, so get
A contraceptive coil.

The coil sits like a sentry,
The womb it can’t relax.
Each egg to reach the entry
Hits the coil and cracks.
And so the wretched ova
Won’t even do to boil:
But you play Casanova
And I’ll go get a coil.

You know that love’s a bargain, babe, 
And both of us take part:
Contraceptive body and
Contraceptive heart.

When will I discover
The writing on the wall?
Lover, baby lover,
You don’t need me at all.
The cap is in the bathroom,
The pills are on the shelf.
The coil is in the dustbin.
Go and fuck yourself.
 

Penistics


I have a theory not yet proved in practice
That penises enlarge with exercise.
The evidence has not yet fully hardened
Due to problems that both do and don’t arise.

The study of the penis as to bigness,
Penistics, being young, is inexact.
I classify my own, for instance, loosely,
As Average, or Handy, or Compact.

I’m willing for the furtherance of science
To let my penis be the guinea-pig
In tests of my hypothesis in action,
Designed to make a little penis big;

I’ve gone as far as I can go in private.
I’ll learn no more from looking in the glass.
But now the forward thrust of pure penistics
Has reached an awkward technical impasse.

Exposure to the Female can cause shrinking, 
Make smaller what began as rather small.
What man can stand erect and know she’s thinking,
‘So where’s the rest of it? That can’t be all.’

The problem hardly needs elaboration.
I doubt the truth will ever now be known.
I want to make my penis grow through usage,
But I’m not going to use it till it’s grown.

Am I alone the butt of cosmic laughter?
Or can it be that as a breed mankind
Is furnished with a paltry pygmy penis
That dingle dangles heavy on its mind?
 

Cheating Again


There you go cheating again -
What do you want me to say?
You tell me relax, it’s not a big deal
So am I supposed not to feel what I feel
Or to magic my feelings away?

There you go cheating again -
What would you do in my place?
You say what you did was just fooling around
So you play the fool and I play the clown
But that’s not a smile on my face.

You say I don’t own you
I get that, you’re right
I’m not going to phone you
At all hours of night.
But are we together
Or are we apart?
It’s never quite knowing
That’s breaking my heart.

There you go cheating again -
Sorry, I’ve just had enough.
Let’s call it off, you can go and be free
Just do it some place where I don’t have to see
And please remove all of your stuff.

There you go cheating again -
Some other fool’s on your shelf.
I’m not the one has to deal with your shit
Don’t look at me, I’m not playing, I quit
One day you’ll find that we’ve all of us split
And you’re on your own, cheating yourself.
 
Why Won’t He Commit?


He’s suitable in every way,
He’s got a job, he isn’t gay,
His trousers almost fit.
We’ve been together, more or less
For over four years now, and yes,
The sex is good, or good enough,
I’m not too shy, he’s not too rough –
So why won’t he commit?

I’ve told him if he isn’t sure
Then now’s the time, walk out the door,
It’s better that we split.
He always turns it round on me,
Like I’m the one that holds the key,
And asks me if I want to go.
And so of course I tell him, No.
But why won’t he commit?

I don’t know what he’s waiting for, 
I’m what I am, there’s nothing more,
Each day that passes by
Diminishes my self-esteem.
It’s not as if he’s love’s young dream.
But all of life’s a compromise,
I’m comfortable with that, so why’s
He not prepared to try?

‘Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know,
You just don’t want to hurt me.’ Oh,
Beloved hypocrite!
You’re sensitive, but not to me,
You advertise your decency
And leave me all the guilt, so I
Must get half drunk to ask you why
Oh why won’t you commit?

Yes, breaking up is dirty work,
I’m not a bitch, you’re not a jerk,
And yes, I’m going to cry.

So tell me that it’s over, say
Tomorrow you’ll be gone, and stay
And sleep with me for one more night,
And let me cry, and hold me tight.

And then just say goodbye.
 

The End of an Affair


A young man silent by the window watching
Broken hearted.
A girl who walks away, not looking back. 
A couple parted.
‘Don’t blame me, Tommy.’ Foolish words, 
Not in his heart to blame,
The pain he feels so great. And yet, 
Within that window frame
Diminishing is all of it contained, absurdly small.
I gave you all there was, he whispers.
All, I gave you all.

She boards a bus and so is gone, 
A double-decker bus.
‘You and I are over, Tommy.’ 
You and I and us.
So do lifetimes rattle, flicker, 
Tremble as they pass
In a double-decker bus, 
Through a pane of glass.


 

Heartbreak is a Kindness


Here comes that broken heart again.
The same old shit, the same old pain.
Don’t sing me more of that old song.
What did I do? Where’d I go wrong?

I thought we’d love forever and a day -
But heartbreak is a kindness in its way.

So if it’s over, tell me now,
I’ll figure it all out somehow.
Hit me, hurt me, do your worst.
I’ve been around, you’re not the first.

I fell in love, now’s just another fall -
Heartbreak is a kindness after all.

I have to die so I can live.
The only gift that you can give
Is give me back my broken heart.
Love has to stop so love can start.

And don’t tell me you’ll always be my friend -
Heartbreak is a kindness in the end.
 

The Lost Boys


We’re told we’re all consumers now:
Demand itself creates supply,
And desperate to satisfy
Our fancies, enterprise competes;
Our local supermarket meets
Our every need. And yet somehow

The thing we really want to find
Is out of stock. Just who designed
This empty shopping mall, and when?

Where are all the single men?

It’s true that there’s a reject stall:
The mad, the bad, the overweight,
The loners past their use-by date,
Implore us with pathetic eyes
To drop our sights and compromise.
But is this it? Can this be all?

The ratio of girls to boys
Is roughly equal. What destroys
The gender-congruent supply?

What happened to the single guy?

I think some modern Peter Pan
Has lured them all to fly away,
And there’s an island where they play,
All noisy rowdy boyish fun,
Where each of them has got a gun,
But no one has to be a man.

They play at being big and strong,
And fight with pirates all day long
And go to bed at night with toys –

The single men are still just boys.

Be patient, they’ll grow up one day,
And look around, and see you there,
And learn to listen, and to care.
They’ve made mistakes, they feel remorse,
They seek forgiveness and divorce.
They want to leave their land of play -

So throw the window wide tonight,
And let it shine, the bedroom light,
To guide them home. They’re older now
And not as beautiful. But how
Can we complain? What’s past is past.

The single men are back at last.
 
Zero Hours Contract


The modern form of labour is a wonder to behold:
The burden on employers that applied in days of old
Has all but been abolished, and those so-called workers’ rights
Are fading from the memory. No union now unites.

We’ve come to see that life is nasty, brutish, poor and short,
The dream of job security for which the unions fought
Forgotten in the bright new morning of a bright new day.
I pay you when you work, and when you don’t, why should I pay?

So if you’re sick, or giving birth, or simply getting old,
What’s that to me? You’re on your own. Your labour’s bought and sold.
The rich get ever richer while the poor do as they must.
It’s a funny kind of justice, but who said life was just?


Modern loving follows modern economic laws –
There’s no more breach of promise. The contemporary cause
Is freedom for the sexes, freed from ancient prejudice.
But liberation’s unintended consequence is this:

Zero hours love is now the model we prefer,
No promises from her to him, and none from him to her.
Fidelity-for-now becomes the fashion of the day –
I love you when I want you. When I don’t, why should I stay?

And if you’re sick, or giving birth, or simply getting fat,
What’s that to me? You’re on your own. And that’s the end of that.
The young get all the lovers, when you’re old you gather dust.
It’s a funny kind of justice, but who said love was just?
 

She Grows Up


Tomorrow I’ll be twenty
Please someone tell me why
I’m here, and where I’m going,
And who the fuck am I?

I ought to have ambitions
But I can’t get out of bed
My youth is an adventure
But all I feel is dread.

Tomorrow I’ll be thirty
It makes me want to cry.
Half my friends are married
And where the fuck am I?

I haven’t got a boyfriend
My job’s not a career
There’s nothing in my future
But loneliness and fear.

Tomorrow I’ll be forty
I do my best, I try
To be a wife and mother
But what the fuck am I?

My husband’s always working
My children never sleep
I know I should be grateful
But all I do is weep.

Tomorrow I’ll be fifty
The years are flying by
And life is what you make it
So why the fuck don’t I?

I’m better now at loving
I’ve worked out how to live
You have to do some taking
Along with all the give.

Tomorrow I’ll be sixty
And I don’t give a damn
What you think I’m doing
Or who you think I am.

I’m starting out all over
My pleasing days are done
Now I’m just beginning
To have some fucking fun. 

Being Born And After


Your body in her body
Your lifeblood in her heart
So close you were together
And smack! So quick apart.

A crumpled howling stranger
A woman worn with pain
The way you were together
You’ll never be again.

And then the years of darkness
Night on lonely night
Longing for that closeness
Hold your lover tight.

Awake alone at daybreak
Let your lover sleep
Too close for forgetting
Too far apart to weep.

In the end the searching
Ceases as it must
Leave the shadowed doorway
Make footsteps in the dust.