A Jealous Bookseller

I usually can predict what people choose

Her teenage eyes had wit and prettiness,

She moved along the shelves with graceful ease

Like a good-humoured royal inspecting scouts.

But then belied her looks and swerved away

From bleating literature to braying fame.

Yes, I was disappointed when she picked

The footballer’s life story. What could he

At twenty-two years old have found to say?

Rich, fêted and handsome, he hardly needs

The royalties. Why couldn’t she just look

At online shirtless shots to have a laugh,

A giggle with her friends and skip this dross?

From my internal sourness a sneer rose

To overrun a face schooled to be bland.

 At the till I asked nastily if he

Had made a movie or a record yet,

Or had he coached old statesmen in world peace?

She said more pleasantly than I deserved

That he was busy with his training camp

And violin. And would I wrap the book,

A present for kid brother, a great fan,

But stuck in hospital, the outlook bleak.

I inhaled heavily as if one could

Retrieve said words together with the air.

How to avoid the prigs’ circle of hell?

Repentantly I said, ‘You’ve chosen well’.