Sometime in the late 90s, I got myself added to a daily mailing list run by a trio that loved poetry. Every day, they sent out a poem to their thousands of subscribers (hundreds, maybe) with a little personal note, a critique, some notes. The Wondering Minstrels mailing list is long dead but the poems have been archived at The Wondering Minstrels. And true to the style of a site somewhat neglected, you can find ads for Viagra and luxury shoes in the comments section. Ah, well. That mailing list was the beginning of my love affair with poetry. It brought all kinds of poems into my life. Some were heartachingly beautiful ("Bearhug" by Michael Ondaatje), some were poignant ("Pigtail" by Tadeusz Ròzewicz), some were impishly lovable ("I am very Bothered" by Simon Armitage).

Today I don't go out seeking poetry but it calls out to me from various places. It has found a place in my heart and seeks recognition everywhere else. Yes, I now appreciate it so much.

"I am Very Bothered"

I am very bothered when I think
of the bad things I have done in my life.
Not least that time in the chemistry lab
when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
and played the handles
in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
then called your name, and handed them over.

O the unrivalled stench of branded skin
as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in,
then couldn't shake off the two burning rings. Marked,
the doctor said, for eternity.

Don't believe me, please, if I say
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
of asking you if you would marry me.

-- Simon Armitage

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