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Illicit sex

October 7, 2014

Come On Up and Rhetorical Questions by Hugo Williams

In 1999 Williams published a slim volume, Billy’s Rain, about an affair. It won the TS Eliot Prize and sold well. Rhetorical Questions is not just intimate – “the blank expression comes/and you set off alone/down the hall of collapsing columns”,  coo er! – but achieves much its effect through that marvellous trick of implying the opposite of what he means.

Come On Up, a later poem (Dear Room 2006), goes first for obvious reasons.

The 72 year old poet is not well. He has renal failure and his family have created a Facebook page (click here) to help him find a donor.

Come On Up

I thought about you as crudely as possible,
till my hand reached for the phone
and I heard you laughing
on the other end of the line.

I’ll never forget your rejection of my plan
to see a film at the weekend
“I can’t think that far ahead,” you explained.
“What are you doing right now?”

I wasn’t doing anything of course.
I remember your voice on the entryphone:
“Come on up Sunny Jim!”
I took the stairs two at a time.

Rhetorical Questions

How do you think I feel
when you make me talk to you
and won’t let me stop
till the words turn into a moan?
Do you think I mind
when you put your hand over my mouth
and tell me not to move
so you can “hear” it happening?

And how do you think I like it
when you tell me what to do
and your mouth opens
and you look straight through me?
Do you think I mind
when the blank expression comes
and you set off alone
down the hall of collapsing columns?

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