Michael Shann Poetry

Drinking with Dylan Thomas in The French House


Two lemonades. Ice. I push one along

the bar. He turns, laughs, tells me where to go.


I think you’ve had enough, I say. Enough?

he says. Who are you to say what’s enough?


An air of ale and smoke, the stale silence

of Soho afternoons. I’m just, I say,


thinking, of the years you lost, of all

your blank pages. He tells me where to go.


Published in To London, 2017





Reading Homer in Poundland


Another dawn, ‘fresh and rosy-fingered’,

leads Odysseus towards Ithaca


and distracts me in the queue for the till.

How much is this? I ask. A pound, he says.


How about this? A pound. And this? A pound,

he says. It’s a pound shop. Oh, I mutter,


placing my book on the counter, hoping

he’ll weigh it against that first impression.


Published in Walthamstow, 2015







Each sweet year since we moved here

I’ve walked out on the eve of your birthday

when we’d settled you all in your beds,

and in the dark March garden I’ve gathered

the fallen camellia blooms, big as rosettes,

pink and frivolous as blown wonders,

when held up to the stars,

from the ocean’s interstellar depths.


And if there weren’t enough blooms

I’ve plucked more blossom straight from the tree

until the bucket was pink brimming and ready.

Then I’ve dribbled a new number across the grass,

letting the wet waxy petals slip through my fingers

like the days we’ve had no days to remember.


And when the number was large on the lawn

I’ve stepped back, knowing it wouldn’t be seen

properly, in proportion, until soon after dawn

when you peeped between curtains

for proof of how old you suddenly were.


Published in Euphrasy, July 2012

London Beards


No way! There’s WG Grace watching

the Ashes on a big screen at Euston.


And look! There’s Darwin queuing patiently

outside the Natural History Museum.


That could be Dickens crossing Southwark Bridge

on one of his midnight meanders,


and here’s DH Lawrence in the Vale of Health,

shades and shorts, looking like he’s still the man.


Published in To London, 2017





The Nag’s Head


Sunday afternoon in January, snow

turning to sleet outside. A fire in here,


an old cat dozing on a stool and flames

jigging round my glass to imagined reels.


Then the music starts. Piano, snare drum,

a trumpet’s solitary notes blooming


through the bar, bathing every one of us

in its blissful, blue, supernal glow.


Published in Walthamstow, 2015





Walking With My Father


Reverting to this hill

in a further lifetime,

I will follow the walk

we took today

after the rain cleared

and blaze of November

sunshine roused

the sodden land.


Muted in loss,

I will follow the two

of us across limestone

and blue moor-grass,

noting that distinctive

roll of your shoulders,

our thinning hair,

listening in as our talk

dips and climbs through

the few prevailing trails

of our disparate lives.


Then stopping,

as we both stopped,

I will linger in our

abiding silence

to breathe in

the far, forfeited view

across Wharfedale.



And later, much later,

I will see this day

as a tall blade of grass

blowing gently apart

from the others,

or sundown warming

the greening staff

of an old, opened,

wooden gate.


Published in Euphrasy, 2012