What social construction is

Nail polish is for XX chromosomes
And maybe goths
So miserable sometimes
They need to be entertained—
That’s what social construction is

A dreary concrete block built
From furious apathy
And guilt
As real as gravity,
It will crush your bones

Faster than a fall from a height
If you dare to think, hmmm
Maybe I’d just like to wear pink
On my nails to adorn
My slender fingers

Everything changes, by Bertolt Brecht

Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.
But what has happened has happened. And the water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again.

What has happened has happened. The water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again, but
Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.

Translated by John Willett

When You Are Old, by William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

In Memoriam A.H.H. [Prelude], by Alfred Tennyson

Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
         Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
         By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;
 
Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
         Thou madest Life in man and brute;
         Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.
 
Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
         Thou madest man, he knows not why,
         He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.
 
Thou seemest human and divine,
         The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
         Our wills are ours, we know not how,
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.
 
Our little systems have their day;
         They have their day and cease to be:
         They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.
 
We have but faith: we cannot know;
         For knowledge is of things we see;
         And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.
 
Let knowledge grow from more to more,
         But more of reverence in us dwell;
         That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,
 
But vaster. We are fools and slight;
         We mock thee when we do not fear:
         But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.
 
Forgive what seem’d my sin in me,
         What seem’d my worth since I began;
         For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.
 
Forgive my grief for one removed,
         Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
         I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.
 
Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
         Confusions of a wasted youth;
         Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

Assertiveness role play, by Lorraine Mariner

I am your work colleague, neighbour and friend.
I have a dog. I’m always going away for the weekend
and expect you to look after my dog which means
you can’t go anywhere. You’ve had enough.
I say Hi Michael. How are you? You say Fine.
I say I’m off to Rome. You say That’s nice.
I say I’ll drop Rover round on Friday. You say No
and use your broken record; Lorraine, I’m sorry,
I’m not going to look after your dog any more
I want to be free at the weekend. I’m supposed to
keep asking and you’re supposed to keep saying
I’m not going to look after your dog again
but instead you touch my leg and say Ok
bring round your dog. How can I refuse you?
The trainer is not impressed. She doesn’t think
you’re taking this course seriously. Other pairs
are still in role so we have time to kill and I ask you
if you like dogs and you tell me you don’t because Of
a stupid Afghan Hound you had as a child, while
the part of me deep inside that knows what it wants
says Forget my dog. He’s a figment of the trainer’s
imagination – you are not. I noticed when we had
to share one thing we like to do, with the group
at the start of the course, yours was going to an
Italian class. Well. I’m learning the language too
only I didn’t like to say m case you thought I was
making it up but… vieni a Roma con me.
This will be my broken record; Come with me to Rome.
I’ve never been and the ice cream I’m planning to eat
on the Spanish Steps is too big for one. To show
that we mean business the trainer says we need a limit,
something that we will do if our needs don’t seem
to be getting met. Not an empty threat. What you say
you have to see through. Michael, come with me to Italy
or my dog will bite you. Or I will. My bottom line.

Landscape, by Gaia Holmes

You will come wet-fingered
and blur my outlines,
smudge the neat shapes I’ve drawn
into the colours of the sky,
until angles and pencilled edges
become a wash, a mulch, a mess.

Let me draw us safely now.
Stick man, stick woman,
fingerless, faceless and stark
with a six mile gap between us
expressing nothing – toneless and bland
except for our fat magenta hearts.

Heart, by Lorraine Mariner

Then there was the night leaving the pub
where she lost her heart by slipping it
into his pocket as he did up his overcoat.
On the bus going home he bruised it
when he sat on it, thinking My seat seems
to be ticking? When he found it,
feeling for his door key, it was still warm.
After sleeping with it on his bedside table
he placed it next to his computer at work
until his boss pointed out it was upsetting
the other members of staff; No plants
In the evening he went back to the pub
to show the landlady, who pointed her out
slumped in the corner, blue in the face,
barely breathing, to which he said Fancy,
giving your heart away so easily! The landlady
agreed, so the kitchen staff cooked it,
and he ate it, with a pint of Guinness.

Stargazing, by Amanda Torroni

I wasn’t admiring
the freckles on your skin;
I was stargazing.
& when I said I wanted
to make love to you,
I meant all of you.
& when you felt my fingers
tracing poetry
over parts of you that
were supposedly broken,
know that all I saw
were prisms, refracted light,
& everything I wanted
to make mine.

Telling Strangers, by Sophie Hannah

I’m telling strangers how I feel.
I simply blurt it out.
I tell them that my love is real
And pure, and free of doubt.

Some blush, while others beam with pride.
Yesterday, in the queue
At Sainsbury’s, I terrified
A lanky youth or two.

My heart is running wild, I say,
With need I can’t conceal.
I find it easy to convey
To strangers how I feel.

I’m sure it can’t do any harm.
They’re flattered; I’ve confessed.
They’re entertained; I’m spent and calm.
I’ve got it off my chest.

To you, I’d never dare express
The truth. I care too much.
There’s no way round this, not unless
You fail to keep in touch,

Ignore me, join the ranks of men
From whom I am estranged.
I promise I will tell you then.
My feelings won’t have changed.

Slipknot Tongue, by Daniella Valz Gen

A glitch
A gap in the flow

Tenuous puddled words
pushed out by sheer muscle
My tongue sweats a language
that tears out my cavity

Too many vague words
to convey what I know
precisely
but cannot express

The labour of speech thickens
my saliva into rancid staleness

To seek refuge in silence is to taste it