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This poem is taken from PN Review 36, Volume 10 Number 4, March - April 1984.

Boys' Own Michael Hofmann
A parting slightly off-centre, like Oscar Wilde's,
his fat mouth, and the same bulky appearance.
Your hair was pomaded, an immaculate wet-look,
sculpted and old-fashioned in these blow-dry times.
The dull grain of wood on polished furniture.
- Everyone has an inspiring English teacher
somewhere behind them, and you were ours. We argued
about you: that your smell was not sweet after-shave,
but the presbyterian rigours of cold water -

on your porous face and soft, womanish hands . . . ?
The public-school teacher had to be versatile -
if not the genuine Renaissance article, then at least
a modern pentathlete - and so you appeared to us
in as many guises as an Action Man: for lessons,
with a gown over one of your heavy three-piece suits;
wearing khaki for Corps on Wednesday afternoons;

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