Guest poem submitted by Derek Lowe:
(Poem #1813) Nothing to Fear
All fixed: early arrival at the flat Lent by a friend, whose note says Lucky sod; Drinks on the tray, the cover-story pat And quite uncheckable; her husband off Somewhere with all the kids till six o'clock (Which ought to be quite long enough); And all worth while: face really beautiful, Good legs and hips, and as for breasts - my God. What about guilt, compunction and such stuff? I've had my fill of all that cock; It'll wear off, as usual. Yes, all fixed. Then why this slight trembling; Dry mouth, quick pulse-rate, sweaty hands, As though she were the first? No, not impatience, Nor fear of failure, thank you, Jack. Beauty, they tell me, is a dangerous thing, Whose touch will burn, but I'm asbestos, see? All worth while - its a dead coincidence That sitting here, a bag of glands Tuned up to concert pitch, I seem to sense A different style of caller at my back, As cold as ice, but just as set on me.
Kingsley Amis was one of the major British novelists of the last half of the 20th century, but he began as a poet. (His close friend Philip Larkin, for his part started out as a novelist). In his literary criticism, Amis hated to see authors dealt with as if their characters' views were the same as their own, but there's little doubt that this poem is at least partly autobiographical. Amis, as his novelist son Martin put it, "lived for adultery", especially during the 1950s and 60s. (Historian and writer Robert Conquest was one flat-lender from this era; there were surely many others). He left his first wife and their three children for another woman, but that relationship fell apart eventually. Amis actually spent his last years living again with his first wife - and her current husband. This seems to have worked out rather well... Derek Lowe.