Gym Class

I can make you sweat, Marianna

I can make you tremble.

I can make you shout, Marianna

I can make you gasp.

I will make you hot, Marianna

I will make you focus.

I will catch you now, Marianna

I will make you live.

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Chance

Terrible things striking good people down;

Murder, war, cancer or floods.

While the mean spirited can still prosper,

Finances never better.

You may have a record- breaking IQ,

But stupid things will happen.

Even those who work so painfully hard

All their lives; day in, day out

Still drop down dead before their goals are reached

Deeds undone and mouths gaping.

Because fate is not a game with prizes

For each selfless act we do.

We try to read fate with tea leaves or bones

To see it in crystal balls:

The sensible work out their statistics

Then, desperate, they wish on stars.

We forge our own paths as much as we can

Blind to all that lies ahead

Nor do we know the paths of those close by,

Blinkered, we can only guess.

Half-formed

Every day and with every calculating word you stole part of me from me,

and you bore down on my mind until I came to fear my own thoughts.

Yet they still invaded my brain like dogged soldiers, as I waged a war against myself, fighting battle after battle that I could never win.

Shell-shocked, I felt nothing as you pushed me against the headboard, against the walls.

Always against what I wanted, but it was unclear what I did want.

As if I were rotting, I softened until you could reshape me, bending and twisting me into the image you had of the perfect girlfriend, presented and promised to you in glossy magazine pages.

It was after you went to prison for the final time that I realised how much you’d taken from me; I couldn’t get up by myself any more, even with the curtains open wide and the baby crying from his room.