How to disappear


The review isn’t exactly vicious as such, merely purely personal and savage.

It stops short of questioning your parentage, but does despair of the day you first picked up a pen and used it to write poems. It pleads you will not do so again.

Most of it is gobbledygook, unreadable. That you don’t understand it is something of a relief. Its tone is what wields the knife.

It rejoices in it rightness, the absolute perfection of its views about your drivel, its certainty, the hot male stink of it, laughing as it dances on your head. It does not even break sweat.

You imagine the boy that wrote it, the man he became, impressing his teacher with his curly script and long, expansive sentences, their clauses like piled up jazz solos. His tie loosely knotted, top button undone. One of the cool ones.

Except not. There is always a layer above. A prefect or rugby player they fear. Or perhaps someone small. Someone cleverer, with even longer words in his pen.

But now you do not know that. You are a ball, a mollusc, a swatted fly. Your children crash into your arms but the pain does not deaden.

A view of hills, a river, from around a sudden bend. All of it ashes. You have become nobody. You are (were) nobody.

The man you became, the boy who wrote those poems, a headmaster’s study, a book slammed down on the table, waking you up.(You are awake now, will be for months.)

There is no one, was no one, will never be. He has gone. He does not look back.


  1. Our family’s jokey response to verbal injury (well, my father’s, really) was always : ‘Have you been reading my letters, again?’ Substitute the word ‘poetry’ for ‘letters’ and you can imagine how your piece made me feel! Fortunately my stuff has been kept pretty much under wraps since for ever, so, with a sigh of relief, I realise that lets me off the hook, for now anyway! Powerful stuff, AW, tapping in directly to the nightmares, which are so much part of the would-be writer’s experience!


    1. Thank you for saying so. I love that line of your father’s. Every family has these coded sayings. Where the real poetry (and pain) usually lies in my experience. Good wishes as ever


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