’Have you seen my coat?’ says the book.

’Nope. You seen mine?’

’Nope. You look tired. Are you tired?’

’You could put it like that.’

’Still spiralling about the clear out?’

’Not so much spiralling as hopping.’

’What?’

’As in mad. No, mad’s not the right word. I am angry.’

’What have I done now?’

’Not with you. It’s not always about you.’

’Who then? Is this about Tom Paulin again?’

’I told you, it wasn’t Tom Paulin.’

’Who then? What?’

’Me.’

’What?’

’I’m angry with me. With myself. It’s not the money I wasted, I kind of think that goes with the territory. It’s more the time. And the energy. And the hope. On the poems who didn’t really like me, or let me in, or pretended they liked me and who it turned out despised me, and not even secretly. The poems who fancied they were better than me, or who knew they were and weren’t prepared to compromise. The time I wasted on those. The poems with no life in them, especially those, the ones who stood in front of a banner saying ‘LIFE THIS WAY’ when the most alive thing about them was the banner, not the poems. The poems with no sense of humour. The poems who pretended to be best friends with Frank O’Hara but who turned out never to have met him. Or the ones who kept turning up at other people’s readings in the hope that someone would pick them out of the crowd and say ‘Today I choose you!’ Those poems. The poems who looked right through me at parties. The poems who failed in their attempt to be gentle. The poems that came with a reading list. The poems whose door was never really open. The professional poems. The clever poems. The poems with their nose in the air. The love poems that were actually about hate. The poems that gave me the time of day then took it back again. The poems who talked about other poems. The poems who gave easy answers. Those poems. The poems I kept on my shelf for years hoping for a look in, a crumb of conversation, some basic human warmth. And most of all the poems who were only keen on being seen with other poems, and not in the hands of people. Those poems. I am so angry. Not with the poems, but with myself, for wasting half my life reading them.’

’So this definitely isn’t about Tom Paulin?’

‘I lied about your coat, by the way. I threw it out. With the poems. You know what you have to do to get it back.’