Poetry

I am a Woman; Heartbreak Hotel

I Am a Woman

I am a woman with a male physique.

I am a woman trapped in a man’s body.

Alas, the reason is not far to seek:

The works work but the finishing is shoddy,

The spirit willing but the flesh too weak,

The present fixed, the future as you please.

God is (of course, I always knew he was) Chinese.

A world of wondering falls into place.  

No wonder that I can’t reverse the motor,

No wonder that I’m always off my face,

Can’t keep appointments, can’t spell Minnesota,

Burst into tears at consequent disgrace.

There isn’t any mystery at all.

No wonder that I hate the Arsenal,

Indeed all bloody footy, though I rate

The exotic Indian wizards of the cricket.

Pure solid gold, not just electroplate,

Their languid mastery is just the ticket;

They do not train, they simply meditate

On boundary hits—shazam! and it is so.

No sweat, no strife, you bet your life. They know.

And I know. What do I know? I know what’s what.

I am a woman in my deepest heart

It’s just the this-and-that I haven’t got,

Particularly the that, the baby part,

Which yet remains a science not an art,

And then there’s actually liking chaps.

I’ll work on that. I bloody won’t. Perhaps

Reincarnation as Madonna fits.

She is—so everybody says—amazing,

A star of stars, a technocrat of tits

Perhaps that apercu requires rephrasing.

She reinvents a stunning self from bits

And bobs. Well done! Don’t think there’s nothing to it.

It spells SUCCESS and only women do it.

Or is the truth I want to be looked after,

I want to be an intellectual muddle,

I want it all: the weeping and the laughter,

The wine and roses and the mummy-cuddle.

No more an Impresario of Shaft or

Captain of Industry or King of Kings,

I’ll settle for a halo and some wings,

I’ll settle for the distaff side of things.

Heartbreak Hotel by Robert Browning

She was false! that fair wanton I wished for a wife,

So I shut up the house and abandoned my life.

Down the street that’s called Lonely I followed my doom

To the inn that’s called Heartbreak and asked for a room.

There are grief-stricken lovers on every floor

But there’s always a billet for one lover more.

The weeping and wailing extend through the nights

And nobody bothers to turn on the lights.

The suits of the staff are as black as my hat,

As they moan and they mope—how they love doing that!

The tears that they shed are as deep as a river,

And everyone stays there for ever and ever.

So take my advice, if your darling has left you

And stolen your soul and betrayed and bereft you,

A street that’s called Lonely’s a street you should know

And an inn that’s called Heartbreak a place you should go. 

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