“16”

 

I wrote the first version of this poem when I was the eponymous age. Partially inspired by Morrissey and partially inspired by Wilde and Thomas Mann, I rather self-indulgently wrote a piece about discovery and identity, sexuality and the human dichotomy between the dignified and the debased. Recently edited for the sake of censoring posterity, I leave it here for your, erm, enjoyment? Oh sod it, I was young and foolish, and re-reading your own adolescent poetry is a sort of curious delight. Like playing with a wobbly tooth, or watching a movie just for the sake of having a good old cry. 

 

Not fallen, per se: but I feel nonetheless an angel

Grounded. I am intellect and design

Manifest in clay: in some ways, artful;

In others, tactile, flesh incarnadine.

 

I learnt to curse: I learnt to hold my tongue

For higher words. I learnt the etiquette

Of roles we play in our ideas of fun,

The way to roll a nimble cigarette,

 

To disobey, to imitate the boys

Who vie for pleasure. What I was before,

I cannot say; but I can state, the choice

Was my own leisure, to play both lad and whore.

 

I am, and aren’t. Existence is a game

And clay’s our plaything. This faculty of mind

Is happenstance, and should I chance again

Upon the joy of flesh, I’ll make it mine.

 

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