Have you ever heard of the 90–10 rule?
I know, you assumed that I was your 10;
someone to fill voids, tie loose ends.
The imaginative, emotional female friend.

Darling, I didn’t take your 90 away.
You lived for years, biding time each day.
I know it’s hard to see her that way.
The reality: she wasn’t the one that got away.

She was the one you had to chase,
with minimal effort in your day-to-day.
Two women, both a country away.
One difference: you never had to ask me to stay.

I wasn’t your 10, I was your 90.
You can’t appreciate it, but you lost me.
Facing that means taking accountability
for everything, for the man you’ve been.

I know you’d rather have nothing
than give in and see yourself.
I’ll never be your 90 again;
enjoy a lifetime with incomparable 10’s.

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Photo by Nicole Herrero

I first met you on an app,
and in Parc Paul Mistral after that.
Red wine on a random park bench,
you spoke in Spanish and in French.
Took me to your studio,
my Sharpie writing on your wall;
‘you know what I like,
you’re gonna be alright.’
We still keep in touch,
the odd, intermittent time.
And like I promised that spring,
we’re both doing just fine.

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old ship, ldn.

“What if the worst thing happens?”
What if it’s better than we imagined?

For you, I was a short time,
a gold rush, a battle cry.
Collateral damage in the crossfire.

Leaving was easy, I meant that little;
There is peace now, but
that was betrayal.

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A hungover text —
‘you should have come here’.
I nearly left departures to try again.
Looking out a giant airport window,
with you only twenty minutes away.
Tears pooled into my mask,
your empty promises that entire flight back.
Worried, somehow I hadn’t done enough,
and my daydreams you might just turn up
to make a real effort for me, for once.
I do try to remember you fondly;
I hope you learn to love yourself —
I forgive you for how you loved me.

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City streets after the rain,
in the middle of the night.
They said I’m your better half,
that I made you come alive.

Midnight, the way you kissed me.
Face to face, I could taste you before it hit me.
Daylight, you sat in parks and in bars
and told me it was you who was wrong.

Flashback: French city nights,
when I wish you had tried
to love me in time.
What I would’ve done for that love.

I checked your socials sometime back,
in a moment of weakness one night.
You were on church steps wearing plaid,
she looked beautiful in white.

Saturday mornings are brand new —
between us, know we’re ‘🆒’.
And know it took a real effort
to learn how to forget you.

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Retrospect,
I wish I was more eloquent —
in my writing, with my time.
My monologues and midnight rhymes.
If I was more succinct,
would you have replied?
The panicked consecutive texts,
losing my spot as your second best —
a secondary pain to losing you as a friend.
It was impossible to feel distance widen,
letting go when I still had more in me to try.
I overthink everything —
like I’ve already lived the day that I’ll die,
or will we reconnect when we’re sixty-five?
I left with gratitude, you went in silence;
my conscience is clear
because there’s freedom in kindness.

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I know you wish I was her;
right city, wrong girl.

Maybe you’d meet her in arrivals,
stand holding a sign with a joke and a smile;
after her over-ocean flight, you’d offer a ride.

Maybe you’d invite her to a dinner
somewhere you wanted to be seen;
lost in a conversation, you wouldn’t rush to leave.

Maybe you’d ask if you could do anything
when she got sick from travelling that spring,
instead of suggesting a park bench to pass time.

Maybe when she spoke, you’d hang onto every line,
change your behaviour if it meant she would stay —
tell her she was worth any effort it’d take.

I know that I’m not her;
right city, wrong girl.

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In the end,
we are what we gave;
we are the effort we made —
you don’t destroy who you love,
I learned that from Greys.
In a universe of time and space,
‘forever’ with him was a handful of days.

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