Michael Shann Poetry
Beatles lyrics, The British Library
The Magna Carta, Leonardo’s sketches,
the score for Spem in Alium, but
what stuck with me was the low-lit hush,
the felt-tip scrawl of Help feeling its way
down the page, the impromptu scribble of
A Hard Day’s Night on a boy’s birthday card,
that something from nothing art emerging
through all the lovely slapdash crossings out.
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
Late September, Measure for Measure,
not one of his best, but still, everyone’s rapt,
reverent, like the stage is an altar.
Heretical to wish it over,
but my legs ache, my bum is blasphemous.
When it is over, I carry the loss
for days, knowing I’d missed the perfect end
of summer with my oldest unknown friend
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
Ice-cream for breakfast
Sofia, what would you like for breakfast?
Sorry Dad. Ice-cream please.
Ice-cream! For breakfast!
Yes, ice-cream. Mint-choc-chip please.
You want mint-choc-chip ice-cream for breakfast.
Actually no. Can I have strawberry please.
But you can’t have ice-cream for breakfast.
Why not Dad?
Because you can’t.
Because you can’t. Whoever heard of anyone having
ice-cream for breakfast?
When did you ever hear of anyone having ice-cream
Yes, Mummy said I could have ice-cream for
breakfast this morning.
Mummy did! When did she say that?
Just now. She said seeing as it’s a special day I can
have what I like for breakfast.
But did she say you could have ice-cream?
No, but she said I can have what I like. And I’d like
But I don’t think she meant ice-cream. Anyway, why
is it a special day?
Mummy says it’s twelve years today since she first
gave you a kiss.
Is it? Oh yes, it’s the 9th of March.
Yes Dad. That’s why it’s a special day.
So it is Sofia. Come on, let’s have ice-cream for
Highly Commended in Yorkmix.com Poems for Children Competition 2019