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

 

 

 

 

Birthday

 

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

 

 

 

Ice-cream for breakfast

 

Sofia, what would you like for breakfast?

Emm… ice-cream.

Pardon?

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.

Strawberry!

Yes, strawberry.

But you can’t have ice-cream for breakfast.

Why not Dad?

Because you can’t.

But why?

Because you can’t. Whoever heard of anyone having

   ice-cream for breakfast?

Me.

You?

Yes, me.

When did you ever hear of anyone having ice-cream

   for breakfast?

This morning.

This morning!

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

   ice-cream.

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

   breakfast.

 

Highly Commended in Yorkmix.com Poems for Children Competition 2019