'Why Dorothy Wordsworth is not as Famous as her Brother' first appeared in The Independent and was subsequently published in Cosmopolitan as were the others included here. ‘I suspect’ also appeared on Poems on the Box on BBC2. ‘Why Dorothy Wordsworth’ is included in numerous anthologies including The Virago Book of Wicked Verse, Woman’s Hour 50th Anniversary Poetry Collection, in course work for A level and a poetry course for H M Prisons. It has also been broadcast on Poetry Please on Radio 4.
WHY DOROTHY WORDSWORTH IS NOT AS FAMOUS AS HER BROTHER
"I wandered lonely as a...
They're in the top drawer, William,
Under your socks -
I wandered lonely as a -
No not that drawer, the top one.
I wandered by myself -
Well wear the ones you can find.
No, don't get overwrought my dear, I'm coming.
"I wandered lonely as a -
Lonely as a cloud when -
Soft-boiled egg, yes my dear,
As usual, three minutes -
As a cloud which floats -
Look, I said I'll cook it,
Just hold on will you -
All right, I'm coming.
"One day I was out for a walk
When I saw this flock -
It can't be too hard, it had three minutes.
Well put some butter in it. -
This host of golden daffodils
As I was out for a stroll one -
"Oh you fancy a stroll, do you?
Yes all right, William, I'm coming.
It's on the peg. Under your hat.
I'll bring my pad, shall I, in case
You want to jot something down?"
There would be more poems
If it rhymed with more than
Erects and ejects...
This begins to sound promising.
I may write one.
The new dress that I bought for the occasion
Ironed with care, fits so flattering at the hips
You'd think I had a waist.
My make-up, thirty-minutes worth, which
On any other day'd take thirty seconds Is immaculate.
My legs do not do justice
To these sheer seamed stockings and
What I paid for them but all the same
My mirror, who hardly ever lies, reports:
"This, baby, is as good as it gets."
The phone, who also never lies (though callers do)
Rings five minutes after I should have left
To tell me something unforeseen's cropped up.
He knows I'll understand. And
Sure enough I do. For after all,
It's not entirely unforeseen.
He's cancelled dates before
And I'm my own person, need not look to any
Special guy for entertainment.
Catching my image in the mirror (lying swine), I see
The new dress makes my shoulders seem to droop.
I think I'll take it back.
ON THE EDGE
We should be five at these meetings
But Bob is ill, Jill has cancelled,
Pete said he’d be late. Very late.
So now there’s me and you,
Separated only by three feet of desk
And our own uncertainty.
You tell me what’s on today’s agenda
Omitting what is really on the agenda
Which is why you lean back in your chair
As though I threaten you
Yet look at me, narrow-eyed
Through long-lashed eyes
Heavy with longing (or is it lack of sleep)
You rock backwards on your chair
Half smiling, lick your lips. I speak.
Your head goes back,
Your Adam’s apple prominent
(I know what they say about
Men’s Adam’s apples).
Your shake your head, smiling,
Your skin Is blushed with gold, I never
Noticed that before.
We can smell the tension, taste it.
The air crackles and sparks
Which of us is scared the most?
The door opens.
Pete, guilty, apologetic,
Is astonished by the warmth
Of our welcome.
My name is Barbie.
I’ve a pretty face,
A nice neat bosom
And a tiny waist.
My critics say I have a tiny mind
But that is quite untrue
And most unkind.
My breadth of interests
Gives the lie to that: I like to dance, to skate,
To clean my flat.
And I can ride or ski,
Do any sport I choose
If I’ve the proper dress
And hat and shoes.
And no one could be keener
To be a ballerina –
Oh you should see me up on points
Flexing my many moveable joints
Or at the weekend in my caravan
Exercising them with Action Man.
HOLD ME TIGHT, HE SAID
"Hold me tight," he said,
And as I held him I thought
Was it three bottles or four
Of the white that I bought?
And if it was three, would that be enough
And should I get some whisky and stuff?
"Kiss me," he said,
And as I kissed him I was thinking
That if Jack was serious
About giving up drinking,
I'd need tonics and Perrier and such
Which with the wine would come to - how much?
"Turn over", he said,
And as I turned I thought
That if the chicken went in about six then it ought
To have plenty of time, but what of the rice?
"Do that again," he said, "that's really nice."
"Do you love me?" he said,
And as I replied I was thinking
That making love is as easy as winking.
But dinner for eight, without a doubt,
Takes a bit of thinking about.
Some men's skin is very white
As though they only come by night.
Some men's skin is florid red
As though they blush from toe to head.
Some men's skin's obscured by hair,
They never seem to look quite bare.
Some men's skin is loose and sags
Beneath their eyes in little bags.
Some women may be equal gems
But I have never slept with thems
See Mick Jagger, watch him swagger
Strutting up and down the stage.
His voice is so raunchy And he's not a bit paunchy
Which is good when you think of his age.
He doesn't close his eyes to kiss
And drawing near I notice this:
That two eyes merge as lovers close
Into one large, above the nose.
Our eyeballs meet, he also stops.
He doesn't want to kiss Cyclops.
We didn't click. I wonder why.
We saw so clearly eye to eye.