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(26 May 1963 / Marsden, West Yorkshire)

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I Am Very Bothered

I am very bothered when I think
of the bad things I have done in my life.
Not least that time in the chemistry lab
when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
and played the handles
in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
then called your name, and handed them over.

O the unrivalled stench of branded skin
as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in,
then couldn't shake off the two burning rings. Marked,
the doctor said, for eternity.

Don't believe me, please, if I say
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
of asking you if you would marry me.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Read poems about / on: believe, time, life

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Comments about this poem (The Tyre by Simon Armitage )

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  • Carlos Cordero (12/11/2012 6:33:00 AM)

    Always the lovely twist at the end. :)

    13 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Kee Thampi (2/24/2012 2:16:00 AM)

    to elucidate our love beyond feel of
    lipped your thumb and middle finger in,
    then couldn't shake off the two burning rings. Marked,
    the doctor said, for eternity.

  • Richard Tattershall (2/19/2012 4:35:00 PM)

    The cruelties of childhood and the regrets for those cruel acts we carry with us for a lifetime....

  • Alex Kadzitu (7/12/2011 11:34:00 AM)

    Actually i don't think he is sorry at all. He reveals his intention in the last verse and i doubt very much that it was hatred that motivated him. Nor was he clumsy i believe this is the quirkiest love poem i have ever read (so far at least)

  • Bella Dunsmore (12/13/2009 7:15:00 AM)

    does anyone know what the semi colon after 'Bunsen burner' mean, represent or do?
    I have to analyze this poem for gcse work and i dont know what it meanssss? x

  • Sarah Fish (3/29/2005 10:26:00 AM)

    I have to say I am not a huge Simon Armitage fan, but sometimes one finds little snippets in his poems which suggest an endearing innocence, and that is what I saw in this poem. The last few lines really portrayed the well-meaning clumsiness and awkwardness that teenage boys have; being 16 myself, I am used to this side of my classmates, and it is easy to tell that it is very difficult for them to express emotion. I can understand why someone wouldn't like it, but I really felt it captured in a sense what I see around me everyday.

  • Fari Bradley (5/25/2004 12:42:00 AM)

    Quirky. One is left feeling the twist and questioning the truth in the fact that he is very bothered. 'Don't believe me' jars with the previous stanza's effect on us, we feel he is sorry, this character, but at the end, one is left with the possibilty of hatred having been the motive. Bizarre.

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