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I just love self-help books, I purchase them all,
they cover the whole of my living-room wall:
Dr. Lodge’s on feeling you’re 50 till 80
I bought at age 48, since it would take me
a couple of years till I found time to read it
(and hopefully more till I started to need it).
Then I heard Dr. Lodge died at age 58
which gave me a bit of a start – but that’s Fate.

So then, to allay all my worries, I bought
the South Beach Diet: it showed what I ought
to eat for a healthier heart and svelte shape
written by a doctor himself overweight.
Then I learnt he had died of a heart attack –
I admit at the news I was taken aback,
In fact thunder-struck:
poor man, what bad luck!
but the book earned him millions, isn’t that worth
a briefer sojourn on Planet Earth?

When I heard that both authors had died, I was glad
that they’d managed beforehand to write what they had
and I’d managed to buy both those books for my shelves,
because even if neither book helped them themselves
and even though I myself never had time
to read them and make their good advice mine
there must be some reason why I’m Right As Rain –
their contents perhaps were absorbed by my brain
by osmosis, the Power of Magical Thinking
(another great book that I bought without blinking):
if those books hadn’t been on my shelves, I am sure
I would never have made it to seventy-four.