The mouth can be quite nasty in a bite
The lover’s pinch can be malicious too
Legs kick, as well as tangle, in a bed
Words can be harsh and not console or rhyme
Fighting is also love’s especial food
Hands can enlace with hands or round a neck
The tools that pierce can be unyielding steel
Attractive nails can score, like claws, the face
Fingers can spread on cheeks, harmful and strong
Hair can be pulled in war, that’s stroked in peace
The fighting female differs from the male
The spitting cat attacks the barking dog
Traditional: Nuisance Value
The cat jumps onto my desk as I write this,
he jogs my arm. I swear mildly.
I push him off. From a cat, it’s like a kiss
and shows affection. I would never wildly
adore him. But I like him. And he’s old
like me. And neuter. Equally into age
both of us travel, trying to keep out the cold
as Time assaults each silly one and sage.
Marriages thrive on loving irritation.
And you miss me the nights I am away,
an absent sleeping partner (copulation
now past). That’s what you say.
And I miss you. No Master is majestic
except to devotees of English Verse,
his virtues may not be at all domestic.
Housewifely traits don’t make me love you worse.
All couples living irritate each other.
I have my nuisance value – like a cat.
But still it’s value – Irritation’s brother
can still be Love, you see. Just think of that!
Send Letters To:
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN
Please include name, address, and a telephone number.