Book of Matches
Author: Simon Armitage
Publisher: Faber and Faber Ltd
Published: 11 October 1993
Book of Matches. Losing none of the exuberance which has become a hallmark of Simon Armitage's poetry, these poems are more personal. The book is divided into three sections - the "Book of Matches" which are sonnets, "Becoming of Age" and "Reading the Bans", a series of poems about Armitage's marriage.
I - BOOK OF MATCHES
'My party piece'
'Strike two. My mind works'
'I rate myself as a happy, contented person'
'I like vivid, true-to-life love scenes'
'I am able to keep my mind steadily'
'Thunder and lightning hardly ever upset me'
'People talk nonsense and I put them straight'
'People never push me into doing things'
'Mother, any distance greater than a single span'
'My father thought it bloody queer'
'I am very bothered when I think'
'A safe rule in life is: trust nobody'
'Mice and snakes don't give me the shivers'
'I live in fear of letting people down'
'I'm dreaming of that work, Man Seated Reading'
'Brung up with swine, I was'
'Those bastards in their mansion'
'There are those who manage their private affairs'
'Let this matchstick be a brief biography'
'I've made out a will; I'm leaving myself'
'I thought I'd write my own obituary. Instead'
'I have dreams like nightmares where I am deserted'
`I think about the time'
'I feel I am at the end of my tether'
'No convictions - that's my one major fault'
'The story changes every time'
'Thinking back, they eith puller me like a tooth'
'Some unimportant word or phrase'
II - BECOMING OF AGE
The Lost Letter of the Late Jud Fry
Parable of the Dead Donkey Hitcher
Act of Union
On the Trail of the Old Ways
To His Lost Lover
Becoming of Age
III - READING THE BANNS
'Above me, at the abbey'
'At closer inspection'
'This time the cat'
'A dream, a nightmare'
'This I950 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith'
'With her labrador, at night'
'Around the cuffs and neck at least'
'Nine morning suits'
'At this stage in the day'
'Your wedding day requires'
'Let me put it this way'
My Party Piece
My party piece:
I strike, then from the moment when the matchstick
conjures up its light, to when the brightness moves
beyond its means, and dies, I say the story
of my life -
dates and places, torches I carried,
a cast of names and faces, those
who showed me love, or came close,
the changes I made, the lessons I learnt -
then somehow still find time to stall and blush
before I'm bitten by the flame, and burnt.
A warning, though, to anyone nursing
an ounce of sadness, anyone alone:
don't try this on your own; it's dangerous,