If I knew then what I know now

would it have changed the way

I wasted so much time before

what hair I have’s turned grey?


Would I have been much kinder to

parents, lovers, friends,

whom now I understand I must

have driven round the bend?


And drunk much less and saved much more

and thought about a pension,

and crammed a dozen languages

and been a name to mention


as someone on a flightpath to

the very, very top

with a wow CV – mine merely lists

flop after flop after flop . . .


And would we still be what we were

for a year or two at best,

until I felt the need to hurt

you, and myself, and test


your patience past the breaking point

seeking intensity

rather than happiness, deceived

by a mug’s wish to be ‘free’?


But then again, am I, inside,

any wiser now?

I still wake up each morning with

a heart predicting how


the day ahead will be defined

by a different set of rules:

am I alone in being so dumb

or are we all such fools –


stuck at twenty-five within

while sixty-plus without,

and ripe for all the same mistakes,

learning precisely nowt?

Published in Snakeskin 250, April 2018