Seven Ages of Love – The Poems

Many thanks to everyone who watch the film on Channel 4 last night. If you missed it I believe you can get it on 4OD. Eventually Zara and I will probably post it on Youtube, but I do recommend watching it properly as some of the shots are just stunning.

I’m really pleased with the way it came out. I think Zara has a long successful career in front of her. It’s been a true joy to work with someone so creative and talented. She has very high standards and really brought the best out of me.

Due to the tight time (only 24 mins) we had to massively edit the poems down. I realise now that it would have been better if they were all shorter in the first place, but I think on the whole the edits didn’t spoil them. They are below in full. And can I just say a big thanks to Sere, Maggie, Geoff, Josh (and all the other teenagers), Andy, Yvonne, Reg, Jeanette, James, Nick, Victoria, Peggy and James for their brilliant contribution to the film.

So here they are – probably loads of typos and all the italics and bold got lost too. Sorry about that. I will edit them properly for a book later in the year.

A Teenage Love Poem

When I lick my lips I can taste
The vodka on your breath
I’ve got you all over my hands
and I won’t wash you off

Why do I like that smell so much?
One sniff and it’s last night
my hands on your hips as fine rain
fell through sodium light

this room is so stale without you
incense can’t disguise
the despair that drips from the walls
and gets into my eyes

the posters, the repeated song
the broken lava lamp
all of it hangs around my neck
I’m weighted down, I’m clamped

Do you feel it? Tell me you do
Half our life is magic
It’s bass lines breathed into our lungs
Sticky dance floors, tragic

Lyrics screamed from our flat bellies
On spinning neon streets
Our hands sweating, stolen seconds
submerged in dirty sheets

And the other half is the smell
Of chip fat and homework
The ghosts of childhood on our walls
Band names on bags, school shirts

And these desperate late night missives
Dead pixels on a screen
We’re drowning in suburbia
We’re chained to these machines
To anyone else they’re toothless
But to us they’re our scream
but no one takes it seriously
because we are sixteen.

My Own Worst Enemy
For Andy Jones

I’m single because I’m my own worst enemy
You know my type, you’ve met men like me
I date like a tourist, I like to see the sights
Maybe take a few pictures then leave at first light
I’ll pay for the initial meal and that’s your lot
I‘ll screen all your phone calls and then sulk when they stop
I’ll search FACEBOOK for girls I’ve meet once at functions
Typing “Steph” “blonde hair” “purple dress”  “Clapham Junction”

I’ve been on blind dates, speed dates and naked discos
80’s style wife-swaps with birds wearing viscose
Had fumbles on bog seats, made love under heaters
Inside parked cars while we wracked up the meter.
You see initially I get the ticks
But going out with me is like the Olympics
All the pomp, ticker tape and fuss is fleeting
then it’s over in three weeks with charges of cheating

I’m single because I’m my own worst enemy
I’ve had it all: girls saying “woah there speedy”
Or “are you pulling that face cos you think I’m ugly
Or “I really like you Tom.” Yeah, my name’s Andy
I’m the guy that girls don’t introduce to their friends
Who meets a hippy bird at a festival and pretends
That he’s a vegetarian just to get a shag
Then writes the whole thing down and sends it to a lads mag

I knew this bloke, right, he used to corpse after sex
Lie there petrified about the bit that comes next
To stop her cuddles, he’d fake cramp, jump out of bed
Screaming, rubbing his thighs and hopping on one leg
I know how he feels, see men like me are like cars
If a girl get too close they set off our alarms
The bag-carrying boyf– one cliché I’ll never be
I’m single because I’m my own worst enemy

Glued Together
For Yvonne and Reg

Do you remember before the madness?
I saw you first. The only thing in the room
This all began with a nervous hello
Common place words remembered forever

The next time we met I saw your big smile
Love can spin and twist and leave you gasping
Strip the walls and start all over again
Our friends always called us a glue couple

Yvonne and Reg – always glued together

People imagine our life to be silent
but our energy makes its own language
we dreamed of the city in the rear view
of a country home made of smiles and glue

Then the smiles arrived, always signing at once
Twins: what’s two plus one plus two again?
tea at dawn, juggle and dash, coats-shoes-hats,
you learn your heart so you can pass it on

Yvonne and Reg – always glued together

Less time to play now, but we talk and work
We share the kitchen and bubbling pans
We share the mornings, their spiderweb drills
We share the sofa on frost bitten nights

We share the bathroom as tired muscles soak
we share the office, our cabinet of war
At night in bed I trace words on your back
always glued together – Yvonne and Reg

We were in love but life got in the way
For James & Jeanette (option 1)

We were in love but life got in the way
things conspire to let you down in the end
I distract myself with these old clichés

Pick yourself up, tomorrow’s a new day
It wasn’t working, no need to pretend
We were in love, but life got in the way

The business collapsed, my confidence frayed
It’s much easier now to comprehend
I distract myself with these old clichés

back in Somerset each row chipped away
until your affair left nothing to mend
We were in love but life got in the way

our children were destroyed but even they
have forgiven you and now we are friends
I distract myself with these old clichés

On everyday subjects we do ok
we share the kids, every other weekend
we were in love but life got in the way
I distract myself with these old clichés

Clearing The Debris
For James and Jeanette (option 2)

It was a whirlwind, all the clichéd stuff
I hid the ring in a box of tea bags
But I’ve learned that love just isn’t enough

Life can hit you in the gut, it can drag
So hard that everything aches. My business
Crumbled, back in Somerset with jet lag

Each quarrel would chip away, making less
of the love we’d shaped together. We sat
on a garden bench and my wife confessed

that she didn’t love me anymore. At
first we did nothing, waited for the cracks
to appear. Then our son found a text. That

was that. I was bitter, under attack
I thought the misery would never end.
Her new lover thought I wanted her back

So I told him we just couldn’t pretend
it had worked. Admitting that helped me see
it was over. Now we’re pretty good friends

we share our children, we’ve cleared the debris
life’s ok and that’s good enough for me.

Two Comedians
For Nick & Victoria

We’ve been saying farewell for years now
as your memories slip away one by one
the two comedians taking a bow.
I always thought my fifties would be fun,

relief, time earned now the children had grown
but your sentences started to shed words
you had trouble using the telephone
problems answering, your days became slurred.

I was dismissive at first, thought you’d just
lost interest in me, sounds so typical
doesn’t it? The nest flown and the dust
not settling, but things got more difficult.

You can’t remember this now but our life
was lived out in galleries and theatres
a shared passion so something wasn’t right
when I realised that it had been two years

since you’d suggested that we go to a play.
Your eagerness, enthusiasm, wit
had vanished, you were being washed away
and no one could tell us why which made it

more painful. Our past is a closed box
with two locks and when your key began to stick
I feared that all its contents would be lost
so I took out each piece and made a list.


Ours was initially a city love.
We walked Nottingham in the rain, past red
brickwork, leaves dripping through streetlights, old pubs
canals, empty buildings and darkened steps.

You wrote plays. Breathed verve onto blank pages
gave words new purpose. Throughout our twenties
we saw life played out on English stages
Brassneck, Macbeth, Lark Rise, King Lear, Plenty.

And soon we had plenty of our own: three
children, Caroline, Rosie and Edward
Valentines Day nineteen eighty-six we
walked in Topsham all along the Goat Walk

where the ripples on the water were lines
on a page inviting us to write down
our story. Which we did, our happiest times
were spent as a family in this town.


We look at photos now, you do jigsaws
sketch misericords, your old energy
still dances in the pencil lines you draw
we still take long walks by the estuary

we can still share landscapes, pictures, our home
the view doesn’t need to be unlocked.
Our love is changing, it’s being de-boned
We’re less demanding ‘bout things which are not

important. I know when I look at you
some people never have a love like ours:
hands clasped together absorbing the view
the two comedians taking their bows.

Britain’s Oldest Newly Weds
For Peggy & James

I was lonely when I walked into that room.
I remember it; on the stroke of noon
“My name is Peggy, how do you do?”

I asked you “do you come here often?”
Goodness knows where I got that from
I must have heard it somewhere before!

That afternoon you took me for a drive
We watched the sea, you put your arm around me
A fast worker, I thought, but the perfect gent.

I loved hearing your voice on the telephone
Within a day you were calling me your darling
By our third date I think we both knew.

Three weeks later – such a whirlwind! I wore white, a tiara
You wore a top hat, you looked so handsome.
By now the whole world knew our story.

Some loves are ballet shoes, they walk on tip-toes
Sit in rows, sew their names into their clothes
Some loves sit at the back, some loves act their age

But not ours, our love is loud like a tuba
The last night of the proms. Our love is a story
Passed down from mothers to their daughters

We were on the telly – beamed into a million homes
You joked that I wanted you for your body
And that you were just after my money.

Britain’s oldest newlyweds. Quite a title
But age doesn’t stop us, even when I spent
A month on a hospital chair holding your hand.

In our nineties but we’re in love like teenagers,
like Romeo and Juliet. Some dreams do come true
And nobody’s too old to believe in that.

10 thoughts on “Seven Ages of Love – The Poems

  1. Well well well done!
    We got loads of texted and everyone love it.

    My daughter (age 8), also featured in the programme was inspired and came up with this poem by herself this morning:

    It lay on the table
    Proudly displayed
    “The best ever pudding”
    Said Mum “ ever made”

    You’ll remember
    This – don’t doubt it!?
    Gran peered, there’s something
    Odd about it.

    “Well, here we go”
    Said Mum with pride
    And grasped the
    Knife that lay beside

    There was a hush
    Time seems to stop
    The knife blade touched
    The pudding top

    Aliens I thought
    Is my laser loaded?
    But no, the pudding
    Had exploded

  2. Love and thanks Luke for your work. I loved the whole poem and programme you made – working with you and Zara was great.


  3. Well done Luke from your 3 greatest fans at the Isle of Man Arts Council. Remember you were here on schools residency and you got the news about the programme? It has seemed like for ever waiting to see it, but it was well worth the wait. Genius.

  4. Well done Luke – loved the programme and it was brilliant to see poetry on television. Shame you didn’t get to make a cameo!

  5. What a beautiful programme – one of the best that’s been shown on the rather evil telebox in quite some time. I bawled from about halfway through until the end, mascara all smudged etc – but it was worth it. Shame you didn’t actually appear on screen – but that wasn’t the point I realise – your words were there!

  6. What a beautiful programme – one of the best that’s been shown on the rather evil telebox in quite some time. I bawled from about halfway through until the end, mascara all smudged etc – but it was worth it. Shame you didn’t actually appear on screen – but that wasn’t the point I realise – your words were there!

  7. Hi Luke,

    We don’t get Channel 4 where I am in Ireland but it’s always good to get more poetry out there. I’m part of the Poetry Divas. We did some great performances at Electric Picnic and we’d love to do Latitude too.

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  9. victoria, i hope the beautiful words that tell your story bring you as much comfort as they bring me hope that one day i may have what you and nick have.

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