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My party piece by Simon Armitage

When I’m nervous I tend to talk too much. When I’m stumbling over the words, it means there is an argument going on inside my head — my mind is screaming, you idiot, stop talking right now. But my mouth, it is having trouble following orders, and my whole body is willing the ground to shake, for a hole to swallow me. I hate parties.

My party piece
Simon Armitage

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,

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