Michael Shann

poet and printmaker

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.


Published in To London, 2017




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

The Globe


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.


Published in To London, 2017




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




Ice-cream for breakfast


Sofia, what would you like for breakfast?

Emm… ice-cream.


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.


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?



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


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