“Self criticism must be my guide to action, and the first rule for its employment is that in itself it is not a virtue, only a procedure.”
– Kingsley Amis
Only The Disappointment Artist
never disappoints he muttered,
turning away and leaving cold
in the bed between them
for her to hold on to.
They had been drinking
since three and in bed
All in a tangle of arms and legs
Eventually and remorseful
she had said
staring there at the ceiling
Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.
Not bad enough,
he thought, that she should think
of her husband while in bed with me,
but that she should quote Larkin
as well. Quite soured any kindness
he might have still had for her.
It was a damn pity, but that’s all
he had left to console himself with,
and once uncorked his resentment
ran across the inside of his forehead
as though blood to an abattoir drain.
She didn’t sleep, but when he did,
dressed quietly, facing away from him
as though now shy. In a meaningless gesture
she left the key to their father’s house
on the old pine dresser saying inside
We would have been better
as an only child, you and I.