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.

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1Don't Say I Said

2Rubbish at Adultery

3One Track Mind


5The End of Love


7Skipping Rhyme for Graduates

8An Aerial View

9Lusing Afte Walter Knife

10Hotels Like Houses

11When He's At Home

12The Sight of Mares

13Pink and the Gang

14The Good Loser

15Occupational Hazard

16In Woking on Boxing Day at the Edinburgh Woollen Mill

17If People Disapprove of You...

18Next Door Despised

19The Norbert Dentressangle Van

20Long for this World



23The Cancellation

24Now and Then

25Postcard from a Travel Snob

26Your Dad Did What?


28In the Chill

29Pessimism for Beginners