Image by Image by Mark Mather

Don't Say I Said

This is a poem that I wrote when I found out that one of my friends was going to be meeting up with one of my ex boyfriends for a drink. And soon as I heard this fact I immediately thought of quite a few things that I wouldn't mind if my friend just happened to drop into the conversation, and so I started to make a list of those things planning to ring the friend and say 'make sure you mention all these things'. And the list was so long and outlandish that I thought no I can't possibly do that, so I wrote a poem instead. So this is called

Don’t Say I Said

Next time you speak to you-know-who
I’ve got a message for him.
Tell him that I have lost a stone
Since the last time I saw him.
Tell him that I’ve got three new books
Coming out soon, but play it
Cool, make it sound spontaneous.
Don’t say I said to say it.

He might ask if I’ve mentioned him.
Say I have once, in passing.
Memorize everything he says
And, no, it won’t be grassing
When you repeat his words to me –
It’s the only way to play it.
Tell him I’m toned and tanned and fine.
Don’t say I said to say it.

Say that serenity and grace
Have taken root inside me.
My top-note is frivolity
But beneath, dark passions guide me.
Tell him I’m radiant and replete
And add that everyday it
Seems I am harder to resist.
Don’t say I said to say it.

Tell him that all my ancient faults
Have been eradicated.
I do not carp or analyse
As I might have when we dated.
Say I’m not bossy any more
Or, better still, convey it
Subtly, but get the point across.
Don’t say I said to say it.


from Pessimism for Beginners (Carcanet, 2007), © Sophie Hannah 2007, used by permission of the author and the publisher.