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last update:

22 Aug 12

Mike Barlow photo
e-mail Mike
Mike’s Website
Mike at the Poetry Society

poetry favourites:
April Poets
Poetry Business
Penniless Press
London Grip


and in the shop…
collections –
“Charmed Lives”

(PBS Choice pamphlet)
“Amicable Numbers”
Templar Poetry;

“Living on the Difference”





Mack’s from an island no one lives on any more.
      The ocean that offered them
      saithe, pollack, lobster, cod,
      now offers only the sound
      of itself on a bad land line
      and heartache – slight but persistent
      like a draught beneath a byre door.
Mack’s a new man on a downtown island now.
      The roar of traffic’s louder than the sea.
      He lives on a street full of islanders like him
      in and out of one another’s houses,
      old words keeping the old world true
      while without their knowing it
      another language changes them.
Mack’s a creel of memories.
      He hauls them to the surface if you ask
      but first he picks about. There’s no
      helping yourself. It’s his catch, his call.
      Sometimes he sorts a bad one out
      and throws it back before you’ve time
      for a glimpse of the truth it hides.
Mack’s the future, Mack’s the past.
      He takes things as he finds them, finds himself
      with no need for a compass, reading
      the sea of faces, the swell of voices
      fighting in his ears the way he’d read
      the spumey waves to bring the boat home,
      the way he reckoned the turning tide.
Nothing fazes Mack.
      He drives a car with a fancy number plate.
      His children swear allegiance to perpetual youth,
      his son enlisting for its war, his daughter
      off to college. Neither know the words their parents
      call out in their sleep, nor the creeping melancholy
      fog brings from the sea.
Mack’s at home a long long way from home.
      You can see it in the way he speaks two tongues,
      takes words from one to compliment the other.
      You can see it in the way he leans
      into any wind, a forward stoop to keep his boots
      at a pushing angle to the ground.
      It’s the way you tell an islander apart.

Mike Barlow

3rd Prize winner, Strokestown Poetry Competition, 2011