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Pete Morgan (1939 2010)

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The Shirt of a Lad               In Absentia

         An Apple Peel Alphabet           A Passionate Adventure


The Shirt of a Lad


Under the bridge at Ballyhoo

My love went down before the water,

My white shirt in her white hands.  

A willow stick to whack it.  


Who came by I did not see

Wash away the weeping, wailing.  

She brought it back to give to me

The cuffs behind her trailing.  


Below the falls at Foofaraw

My love went down before the water,

My white shirt in her white hands.  

A laurel stick to lam it.  


Who rode by I could not hear  

Wash away the will, the wishing  

When she brought it back to me

A yard of tail was missing.  


Beside the rocks at Rantan Bay

My love went down before the water,

My white shirt in her white hands.  

A blackthorn stick to bat it.  


Who came by I dare not name  

Wash away the fear to follow.  

She brought it back to give to me

With brimstone on the collar.  


Who rode by I know I know  

Wash away the false, the failing  

Down the River Rowdydow

My once fine shirt goes sailing.


Pete Morgan

from: The Honey Gatherers,  A Book of Love Poems.  ed. Maura Dooley.  Bloodaxe Books, 2003



In Absentia


This morning, six-thirty,

the light of the sun

flickers through curtains

to brighten the room.  


Two glasses, one empty the other half-full:

the dregs of vin ordinaire darkened and dull.  


Wind in the willow tree

outside the window

throws a quick shadow

across the stone floor.  


The corkscrew, still holding the prize of the night,

lies on the carpet:  a stab in the sunlight.  


Beside it the candle

has dribbled red wax

down from the bookshelf

on unopened mail.  


On the bench, the broken bread, Caullomiers

the poem, unfinished, crumpled on the chair.


Pete Morgan

from: the isle is full of noises, ed. Kevin McCann, Benham Publishing in assn. Liverpool City Council, 2002




An Apple Peel Alphabet




can band her eyes with black



can not divide



can test the strength of love



can never hide



has three within her head



has faithful two



has crossed her tongue with lies



is always true



can beckon all before her



can point to love and hate



can set her right again



can only stand and wait



goes up and won't come down



is blind to such good grace



is always buxom P



will pull a yahoo face



can walk in wanderlust



can slip in slime



can see no sight of stars



might reach in time



has stretched in supplication



will win



has opened up her heart



will sin, will sin






alone can come to trust



and love



without the quiz



that takes away the mystery



and tells her





Pete Morgan

from:  Scottish Love Poems, A Personal Anthology, ed. Antonia Fraser (revised edn.), Canongate, 2002




A Passionate Adventure

(i.m.  Lynn and Barry Collett.  Married, August 15th, 1998:  death by drowning, August 17th, 1998)


You live with this: the man, the woman

walking close to water.  It is summer

but they are dressed as though approaching autumn.  


He wears his climbing boots, his Levi's.  

She wears her anorak.  He holds her hand

and seems to coax the woman to be cautious,


to watch her step.  Laughing, she lets go

and from the hand she quickly takes from his

he tugs a glove.  She brags the wedding finger


and runs from him, daring him to chase

and so he does, right to the river's edge.  

The floods of water muffle out the laughter.  


Here the man, the woman, both collide

to child again.  They simply dance on rock

all slippery with green weed from the water.  


They must have known where they were going.  

Perhaps it was to cross the stepping stones.  

Perhaps it was the steep climb into woodland


where they knew leaf's shadowing would shield

their new embrace, desired discovery.  

That journey was the passionate adventure


of one foot slipping, one hand reaching,

one hand gripping on to green but ripping

and then the sudden silence in rough water.  


On the bank she left her anorak.  

He left a skid, a boot mark on the rock.  

Behind them stood the cottage with lace curtains


neatly drawn to keep the wedding cake.  

Stacked upon the table were the presents.  

For them there were no arguments, no favours.  


You live with this:  and on each recall

you hear the hammer thunder in the flood

and see the axe head in the river's silver.


Pete Morgan

from:  New Welsh Review,  1999


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