Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: Peterloo Poets (12 Oct 1992)
Daddy Edgar’s Pools
Mike’s first book with the legendary Peterloo Poets, one of the best of the small specialist presses. After many many rejections from poetry publishers Mike sent his poems to Harry Chambers of Peterloo under an assumed name Christopher O’Neil, (his middle name and his mother’s maiden name). The reason for the assumed name was that Mike was on TV quite a lot at the time and wanted his poetry to be accepted for what it was and not because he was a “face.”
When he got a letter of acceptance from Harry he came clean and admitted who who he was.
“That’s ok,” Harry said, “Ted Hughes told some of his mates that if he were an unknown poet starting out now he wouldn’t get published. So they sent some of his new poems to me under a nom de plume and I rejected them.”
The collection has some poems of childhood (Mushycat / Dancing On Toes) but also ranges far and wide in both Time (Thomas Fisher / Landfall) and Place (Salalah / In Swaledale).
The poem below was inspired by the loss of his RAF Lancaster navigator father lost in a bombing raid over Germany in September 1944.
Beside the bowl of shrinking, puckered fruit
And the cracked pot jug that holds the rent book,
My teeth and hair and eyes look
Forward from twenty-three years of death,
Begun when parachutes burnt over Holland.
Four weeks later to the day, I wailed my way,
On points, into the all clear Anderson-world,
And began immediately to build, from your braid and bible,
A pattern of fathers. So I made you out
Of cuttings from the Eagle and the Hotspur and the Lion
And rode you up and down the German-clotted sky
Until you must have been nearly sick to death.
This way I made something, but it was like
A pub piano, alright to vamp for sing-songs
Near the fire by night, but tuneless
And nerve-jangling in the morning’s cold: a wax man
Whose wings fell off in the sun.
We rarely talked of you. I could not ask
What you were like, or felt or said –
Bits trickled through the net of pain: your motorbike,
The way you waltzed my mother through the rain
Rolling back to camp on the eastern train.
They say that I’m your spit, and yet we know
The closeness of our common grief would be
Too much. We dust your picture smile and,
Saying nothing, we construct our truths.
We have a picture of a cross somewhere
In Holland: a green hump covers up
The bits of you they found. I clutch it still,
Sensing only mystery and loss, and hold
The little that I have to make you up again,
Cast now perennial, in different, stranger moulds.
Daddy Edgars Pools
Dancing on Toes
What Did You Learn in School Today?
Old Man Farrer
It has Snowed Leaves all
|In the Archaeology of the Heart||26|
|Cliffs of Moher||27|
|Searching for Lambs||35|
|An Old Dalesman Foresees his Death||38|
|A Dream of Mermaids||50|
|The Secret Life of Stone||52|