How are you today?

This is a poem about the question everyone asks but no one wants to know the answer to…

How are you today?

I’m broke.
I’ve got no coke
No dope
No smoke to toke
And every single DJ’s playing folk.
My best friend croaked.
He gagged himself on my first edition of Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke.
It’s like God’s Bob Hope
And my whole life’s his joke.
I’m a wheel without a spoke
I’m an egg without a yolk
I’m Facebook without pokes
I’m the Potteries except for Stoke
I’m the tsetse fly that woke
I’m Shep without John Noakes
I’m the New World Chardonnay they left unoaked
I’m a monogamous guy on Hollyoaks
I’m the e-mail you deleted that was not a hoax
I’m series two of Dexter without Doakes
I’m a self-employed vajazzler in a town that’s only blokes.

Oh, yeah, you know, I’m OKie-doke.


11 thoughts on “How are you today?

  1. Long time ago, one friend(who was somewhat blunt) asked another friend how she was. Sue said at some length how things weren’t really so great but you know…
    Justin said, “I was only asking to be polite, I didn’t really want to know, you know.”
    Never forgotten that, twenty 7 years later, or similar encounters.
    Wonderful poem.

  2. exactly – it can be so crushing. It’s one of those social “rules” that aliens observing human behaviour would just never get. I try never to ask unless I want to know – but then I’m useless at small talk – the average social gathering sends me into a tailspin (hence spending all my time in the safety of being behind a microphone). I can do silence and I can do talking about specific things, or I can do deep & meaningfuls but I can’t do the inbetweens.

  3. Since being here and experiencing this ‘British reserve’, I have mostly gone along with the, “Uh yeah, I’m good. All is well.” Then one time I tried a different – the honest – approach, and it kind of worked out okay. But then…he was South African.

    I’m waiting for the day I can come back to that question with something like that. Maybe not as cool as you’ve written it, though. =)

  4. I think it does people good from time to time for people to give a full answer – it makes us think about the real meaning of things we say and do without thinking all the time 🙂

  5. I’m not a regular poetry reader by any stretch of the imagination (mine or anyone else’s), but those that I do come across I do typically enjoy. Like this one! The human condition is an impressive thing, all the fluctuations possible and at the end of it all, all we want is someone to truly give a shit when they ask “how are you?”

    Good presentation last night at the Society of Young Publishers by the way. I hope I caught on Twitter most of what you said:!/search/%23sypoxford

    • Hi Jonathan – you’re the guy with the cool Creative Commons T-shirt and the Clark Kent style change-to-bicycle gear, aren’t you? Thank you!
      I’ll go take a look on twitter – I’ve been asked to write a piece on how web fiction and live events overlap for 1889 laboratories ( – if you don’t know it, I have a feeling you’ll love it there – it was originally the brainchild of MCM, one of the great online fiction pioneers whose exploits include 3D1D the live-written [literally – he streamed every keystroke] interactive novel written noon-stop in 72 hours) and I’ll be referring to last night a fair bit – I’ll send you the link when it’s out (March 28th).

      • Thanks, Dan. Guilty as charged! There were a lack of nearby phone booths to make my changes (and subsequent escape). Thanks for the comment on my shirt, by the way. I’ve come across 1889 Laboratories before (but only through Twitter). Each being Canadian meant we started following one another over there – birds of a feather (and all that, but I suppose that should be geese!)

        Streaming every keystroke sounds fascinating. Hope last night provides a fair bit of inspiration for your upcoming piece.

  6. My mother told me that she was asked “How are you?” by a younger acquaintance. She told him the truth and he had looked very bored. I said to just say “could be worse”. You could you know. You could be gasping your last breath. She smiled.
    Well she has now. (gasped it).

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