“They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you. But they were fucked up in their turn By fools in old-style hats and coats, Who half the time were soppy-stern And half at one another's throats. Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can, And don't have any kids yourself.”—Larkin - This Be The Verse
It’s not supposed to end like this
You’d plead long hours later.
Of course you’d lost all authority
Identified as a stranger’s depository.
That morning’s birdsong
Was more broken record. Returning from work
Half-drunk, vinyl of your clothes scratching, make-up mess
That wouldn’t come off, wet skin still sticking.
Your four-four barked at the bed,
Commanding me to undress you.
Unzipping your violet theme one more time
Tracing down the seam of the pink thong
Bought for you last Valentine I was stung
By a bittersweet tune- off white.
An alarm rings- no a Mocking Jay’s chirp,
Your phone flicked to life.
You fast asleep, Jay’s awake dream-filled texts
I rewind through your messages - trace your serenade
As classy as a seared scored crotch.
My heart’s cadence like a used Helium Balloon
Landing on that last unsent message
Stored on your phone:
“It’s not going to Halle, is it?”
What the hell does that mean? I won’t ever know-
There was nothing but silence, save the lone beat
Of my first feeling-relief
At the lullaby from which we would never wake.
Lamplight-clay cakes our shutters
Me, the busy fool- I had seen our end
On the edge of vision. Kept it breathing
With my indecision-Now my rented world
Flat-room-bed, unwinds like an old bootleg.
The coward takes his keys and slips away
To seek the time her music was his day.
But he can’t- walking along the Thames Path
To soundless dark.
Hoping to drown or drink to douse his furnace-fear
It would take five years and an email to get anywhere
Dawn breaks most days, but I don’t remember
The sunrise that morning.
You chose to end our relationship with trivia
Asking me if I had seen the Hunger Games.
May the odds be ever in your favour.
Philip Larkin: The Trees*
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
*Click on the source link to hear Larkin recite this poem.