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Alan Dent




How green was my valley

and how the steel was tempered

how to boil an egg or

your enemy

though you will have no enemies

once you’ve read

How to Have No Enemies

how to write a symphony or

the best novel since Cervantes

and how

to find the agent

who’ll market it to bushmen

how to live to be a hundred

because of course

you’ll want to live

in the bright new future depicted in

How to Have a Bright New Future

how to murder your wife

or your husband

or you lover’s husband and how

to dispose of the body

without staining the carpet

but if you do

how to clean it

with your own urine

how to get rich and how

to solve poverty

how to have better orgasms

or any orgasms

and how

to win the best looking man or woman

in your town

and should the best looking man or woman

turn out to be a psychopath

How to Live with a Psychopath

or how to leave a psychopathic partner


how to raise your kids

so they’ll be






and good

and should you have

poor sick



malicious children

how to get the help you need


if you’re not






and good

you’re going to be depressed

you don’t worry because

How Not to Worry and

How Not to Be Depressed

are on the shelves

how to win a million and

how to spend a million

how to lose weight and how

to lose it once you’ve put it on again

how to turn your heart

into a sleek machine

how to lower your cholesterol

how to raise an erection

how to get divorced or

how to make your marriage last

how to cheat death

how to stop the sun

shrinking like a penis in cold waves

how to talk to god

if he’s there

and if he isn’t

how to take his place

how to make your boss

want to promote you

and how to make your inferiors

feel inferior

how to avoid humiliating

by humiliating others

(this book has sold ten million

so watch your back)

how to grow sweet peas

how to live with piles

how to turn your junk

into someone else’s junk

how to make a bomb

how to plant it on a bus

and feel proud of yourself

how to fool the people

all the time

how to be

love by everyone

admire by most

feared by many

how to have an ego twice the size

of Jupiter

and still to thank yourself

a paragon of modesty

how to treat life

as a set of answers

found between the covers of a book

written to make money

by a suicidal alcoholic

or a five-times divorced junkie

or an over-weight survivor

of three heart-attacks

or a psychopathic bankrupt jailbird

or an impotent compulsive gambler

with bad breath

or a lunatic fanatic of bad books

riding through the modern world

on an ancient Rocinante

taking inns for castles

whores for angles

flocks of sheep for armies

looking for a bread not made from wheat

setting out in search of wool

and getting shorn



Alan Dent has published five books of poetry, the two most recent being Who (Shoestring Press) and Town (Smokestack Books). His anthology of modern French poetry in translation, When the Metro Is Free, will soon be published by Smokestack. Since 1995 he has edited The Penniless Press. He lives in Northwest England and works as a teacher. He is married and has two daughters.



Copyright ©2006 by Alan Dent