my other man

I drank too much wine;

my father’s standard phrases –

mark my words,

look at it this way –

the whole room washed with him.


My partner piled books

for my mother,

read the titles one by one –

this one’s about a woman who leaves her husband –

but my father never heard a word.


I would gladly kill him,

even though I can imagine the little boy he was

and remember the little boy I was.

My father how tall you are and if you were a mountain I would climb you.

I swirled my wine,

imagined it issued from the stem,

wondered what sent it up.


My partner thinks I’m sleeping with a man.

Her tongue snaked across her bottom lip;

she threw it back at Dad – the counsel he clapped her with –

said, no you look at this

and I waited with my other man inside me.


How do you leave the table where your parents sit?

We tucked them off to bed

and followed,

but I saw his pointed finger still,

the chop bone on his plate chewed to nothing,

heard him and said it’s not a fight and

wished I’d said it, my mother turning pages,

my partner fetching cheese and fruit.


In bed, she said, it’s strange, something’s not right

and left to be with baby.

I lay there with my other man

not dislodged.


Still the cars slapped the wet road outside.


9 thoughts on “my other man

      1. Now that I’ve read it again my conclusions have left me! I wondered if your parents had just come to stay…or if they’re in fact not alive and it’s all things unsaid. Your other man is the one you are when you’re not their child? ah..maybe I just think too much, do tell 😉

  1. I wrote this after a visit quite a while ago. I guess the other man is the unrealised, unexpressed self … at least that is what I was playing with … Phil

  2. I really liked this. Not sure of your intent, but for me I think grown “children” can feel a bit out of sorts when both with their parents and their family (spouse, kids) around. You evolve, but each group has an idea in their heads of who you are to them and you can easily feel uneasy, as you might act differently towards certain people. Like it becomes an issue of expectations. Maybe that’s just me. Either way, great poem!

  3. so glad to see you posting again, Phil! I have missed you.
    I love the play on words – the relationship of speaker & father is a chess match … how the speaker has to swallow his “other man” to exist in the father’s house. very well constructed. when I read this tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll get something different out of it.

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