Turn it Round

Stubborn? she said
Me? with a look
which might have been innocence
playing about her face.

I smiled

Your stubbornness
I said slowly
is one of the reasons
you are still sober today.

I smiled again.

She stared at me,
uncertain, quizzical,
wondering if I had just
paid her a compliment.

I had.


44 Responses to “Turn it Round”

  1. I have just turned my computer on and was surprised to see the poem already here!

    We have discussed the subject matter of this quite a lot and I think all I have to add is that ‘she’ could well be me!!

    One thing I love about your poetry is that you donn’t pepper it with complicated ‘clever’ words, therefore it becomes immediately meaningful.

    I can think of an instance last week where my stubborness had to be turned around and guess what, it worked!

    Lots of love



    • belfastdavid Says:

      You do realise Christine that, by this response, you have just admitted, in a public place, that you can be stubborn. I may choose to remind you of that in the future. 🙂

      Lots of love


  2. Stubbornness. One man’s meat, one man’s poison. It does pay to be stubborn about things that you care deeply about. I was stubborn the day I quit smoking and drinking. Saved my life. I do drink some now, but it is only one glass of wine at night for a sleep aid. This was a well put together poem, David.

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Jerry,

      A great asset to have – stubbornness – when we choose to point it in the right direction

      Not so useful, as you and I well know, when pointed the wrong way.


  3. Leeza Coleman Says:

    A clever write. To a recovered alcoholic, a gem!

  4. The underlying tenderness in this poem warms me.

  5. A most thought provoking & engaging write.

  6. David, I keep coming back in and reading your poems…I wish there were more…I think I am going to have to buy your book when my pay comes in…you are the best free form poet I have ever read. To write free form cohesively and with meaning like this is a great skill and a form of poetry I have not been able to accomplish personally in any way whatsoever. I think the secret is finding your own rhythm and without the rigid rules of meter and rhyme it is very challenging. I am analysing it, trying to work out what it is you utilise! Definitely form but the tone is also very powerful. Light-hearted yet intense at the same time….in fact in all of your poems that I have read. I think using the David Agnew moniker is very clever too! Genius in fact. Already you are familiar to us and we don’t consciously recognise why…at least that was the way with me! The special tact you have used in this piece and how it works so well for me is that…I am still thinking! This one has REALLY made me think and as someone said above…you don’t overcomplicate matters with “big words”…straight to the point. You are becoming one of my favourite poets very quickly. I am not talking “compared to other poets I read online”…I am talking “compared to my favourite poets Sylvia Plath and T. S. Eliot”. I am currently undertaking a poetry course and one of the questions in my most recent assignment is “Write a poem in free form and then re-write it in iambic pentameter” so I am frequenting your pieces a lot, as I said, for inspiration and help!! Ha ha.
    Anyway forgive my waffle. Just one final thing. I also loved your Pantoum. So very clever my friend. From your dedicated fan downunder. xxx

    • belfastdavid Says:

      What terrific compliments.

      Thank you Viola – they are very much appreciated. I would be delighted if you decide to buy a book.

      In terms of writing a poem, I write it first and think about form afterwards. And I learn about poetry by reading poetry – take my inspiration where I find it in the poems of well known poets. Having said that I would find the assignment you have been set difficult – I have great admiration for some of my friends who can make classic forms really work for them. Do let me know how you get on.

      As for the moniker David Agnew – easy to choose really – it is after all my name 🙂


  7. May I ask who your favourite poets are? I read somewhere where you mentioned them but I had not heard of any….! I don’t know where I read it now. Could you please enlighten me again? Thank you for the tips. Also I have been stuck on this assignment for a year! I take it out…look at it and promptly put it away again! (it is a four year course but I have actually ALMOST completed this assignment, the hardest of all the assignments this one I think)..The other work asks me to “Write a Shakespearean sonnet”, “Write a poem in iambic pentameter and then rewrite it in trochaic tetrameter” etc etc. Of course I just end up doing what I want without rules which is quite lazy really! But more satisfying personally!!! Still one can never learn enough….xx

    • belfastdavid Says:


      My favourite poets would include Paul Durcan, Mary Oliver, Sharon Olds, Fleur Adcock, Wendy Cope, Carol Ann Duffy. These are all contemporary poets as I find that contemporary poetry has much more to say to me than the poetry I was taught at school. Of those I have been to see readings by Paul Durcan, Sharon Olds, Wendy Cope and Carol Ann Duffy – each inspirational in their own way.

      I like the form of Shakespearean sonnets and have tried on a number of occasions to write in that form – never entirely to ny own satisfaction I have to say.

      And, as you say, I keep learning. xx

  8. It is stubbornness that makes you do something when everyone says you cant. so yes, it IS a complement.

  9. david this is awsome,, every one needs a freiind to remind them they did well and put forth that effort even when its the hardest thing they ever did,, i know you did and im proud of you too love and hugs inky

    • belfastdavid Says:


      I am delighted to find you here – thank you for visiting.

      As you say, friends we can trust are truely a blessing.

      Love and Hugs


  10. Purple Paul Says:

    Good one, David! 🙂

  11. seeker of truth Says:


    • belfastdavid Says:

      Ah Sandy, I find myself not at all surprised that you have been accused of being stubborn. 🙂

      But you see, sometimes it is not an accusation, it is a compliment!


  12. Funny how those detriments can be changed into assets once we’ve made that psychic change.

    Good smile here.

    • belfastdavid Says:

      The character traits which kept us drunk, now the character traits which keep us sober.

      Makes me smile too Pat


  13. christine Says:

    To answer your question – I thnk may have accessed just a touch of humility – wow!

    lots of love


  14. Vera Hazelgrove Says:

    Very smooth turn around, very enjoyable to read.
    (Is it staying with you all the time that you have to be stubborn to stay the way you want to be – sober? I have no idea, and if that’s the case, yes! use all the stubborn and determination you have. I think you are doing fantastically well!)

    Oh! and keep up the good work, I look forward to read more! 🙂
    Vera & Karley

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Vera,

      I think the way I look at it, stubbornness and determination are two sides of the same coin. I certainly had stubborn in bucket loads when I was drinking so I use that character trait in sobriety but I call it determination. 🙂

      My very best to you and Karley


  15. Peter Doyle Says:

    Excellent David… I spoke about “sanctified stubborness” on Sunday. I once had a prophecy spoken about me which began…” You are a stubborn individual”. He modified that to detrmined, but he was right the first time. : )

    • belfastdavid Says:

      I would love to have been there to hear you speak Peter – “sanctified stubborness” has such wonderful potential.

      As to “stubborn individual”, I guess we both qualify! We wouldn’t be where we are today without it. 🙂


  16. David, this was such a sweet write!
    I like how you made the twist to a compliment. This poem is most uplifting for that.
    Our faults often times become our greatest assests.
    I perfer to think of myself as headstrong and determineded, but at the end of the day I know it’s still the 5 year old with her feet dug in going NO! *lol*
    This poem reminds me that sometimes we need our ‘faults’ to push us up the hill or keep us on top. That’s a good thing. 🙂
    Thankyou for sharing this wonderful piece.

    Take care

    • belfastdavid Says:


      Now I am smiling – I have an image of the 5 year old you, digging her heels in, stamping her feet and with a curl on her bottom lip!! But then it wouldn’t make me smile if I couldn’t envisage me doing the same thing 🙂

      A lot of the “faults” which are part of my alcoholic personality are exactly the “assets” I need today. I just point them in a constructive, rather than a destructive, direction

      You take good care of yourself

  17. David your work is beautiful as always. Please forgive my being here so late. Have been working at getting the brains back in my computer; all the myspace changes and gathering information on how to set up a site here! So hoping to see you soon. Seems like everything I’m doing right now is new so one could say I’m in a giant learning curve!


    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Racheal for making the time to drop in amongst all that busy.

      I look forward to seeing you when you have a site up on here. I am just glad to be away from the mayhem which appears to be MySpace



  18. lol …. it takes one to know one. that’s what came to mind on reading this! hehe … funny how we have a thing like “stubborn” that goes through changes on meaning. now it lives a little closer to “tenacity” than “uncooperative”

  19. Nice to revisit this one..sober (:

  20. Stubbornness is indeed necessary for surviving! I especially enjoy poems of an interaction between two – a private, ordinary exchange with universal truth spilling out all over.

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Jonnia,

      There are often poems to be found in private, ordinary exchanges. I need to pay more attention if I am to find them.


  21. 🙂 I love this poem. It is so true, it needs stubborness to get by at times!
    I was a very stubborn child and I still am stubborn. It caused me trouble and pain (in the sixties stubborness was a sin that needed to be beaten out I suppose lol) If I said no, it was no. I know I will never give in if I think I am right! Maybe not a good thing,in dily life but it is the spirit you need to overcome an addiction or survive horrific memories.
    The “she” in this poem is the proof. A strong character is essential 🙂 And you noticed!

    Big hug and love

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Ina,

      I am a great believer that stubborness and determination are two sides of the same coin. Stubborness becomes determination when it is pointed in a positive direction!! 🙂
      I have little doubt that it was my stubborness (determination) which helped me to stay sober.

      I have little doubt that your stubborness (determination) is in part what allowed you to achieve success as a writer 🙂

      Big Hug

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