They have stolen the certainty stamp
from the local post-office.
They have franked themselves all over
with black ticks.
They have never lain awake
at 3am, chewing the inside of their cheek.
The windows and doors of their houses
retain the gleam of someone with arms folded
who says: ‘Told you so!’
Their children have been taught
to advise the neighbours on the central placing
to sit under the teacher’s nose,
just like they did.
Whatever you’ve done, they’ve done better.
They’ll know the population of the town
where you were born, and what it was in 1960.
They’ll outdo the places you’ve seen; say Brighton,
they’ll shout, Bhutan; your enjoyable stay in Bordeaux
will be capped with indescribable bliss
in Bury St. Edmonds;
you’ve flown to a fab forest
in Finland, they’ve hitch-hiked to Fiji, tight-rope
walked to Tonga,
never mind the distance,
never mind there’s oceans, mountains,
complexities of borders,
no sweat, it was easy.
When you pack a suitcase, they’ll say just what
will fit in there, down to the last pair of pants;
and how many changes of outfit you’ll be needing
for that weekend in Filey, or Frome.
They’re unctuous, certain and very, very sure,
They’re never jealous. Why would they be jealous?
They don’t eat tomatoes, and neither should you!
They want you to chuck out, sit straight, buck up.
Sagging with sorrow in a subway?
‘Pull yourself together’.
‘Distraught in some dim dive.?’
Just move on. That’s what they did.
They…(me, you ?)…stole the certainty stamp.
Give it back.
Unpolish the gleam.
Dishevel the mountains.
Unpack the seas.
Untick the black.