The Sunday Poem – Mike Barlow

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Getting the Sunday poem in pretty close to the wire!  But I’ve been at the Dorothy Wordsworth Festival of Women’s Poetry all weekend.  More about that in a later post.

I went to Mike Barlow’s book launch last Thursday.  His new book, Charmed Lives is published by Smith/Doorstop.  You can order it from http://www.poetry business.co.uk

It was one of the few poetry readings I’ve been to where the organisers had to get more chairs out!  People had turned out in force to support Mike.  I think this was for two equally as important reasons.  Firsly, he is  a great poet, as you will see from the poem below, which is one of my favourites in the collection, but secondly, he is such a lovely guy, in fact he is reknowned for being generally nice.  You’ll know what I mean if you know him!

Anyway, it’s a great book with a fantastic cover, which I’m told is one of Mike’s paintings – he is a visual artist as well.  His website is

Let me know what you think of the poem!

Holding the Door – Mike Barlow

I held the door for my daughter
who waved and disappeared
before I’d had a chance to smile.
I held the door for my grandmother
still ramming her trolley
against the heels of the person ahead.
I held the door for a couple arguing,
I knew their words by heart.
I held the door for a pair of trainers
and a tiny muscular dog which sniffed my toes.
I held the door for a scar of scarlet lipstick
pursed in permanent disapproval>

I held the door for the verb ‘to love’
declining itself endlessly
to strobe lights and a drum machine;
for the colour red, it wore a mini-skirt
on a pale exhausted body;
for faith, looking straight ahead,
eyes fixed on the vanishing point;
for famine, trying to explain itself
again and again with the sound turned down;
for silence, its white sheet smoothed
and tucked into crisp hospital corners.

I held the door for childhood.
It flickered like an old newsreel
played in the daylight.
I held the door for history.
It swung through with a funny walk,
a punter in a hall of mirrors.
I held the door for tomorrow.
Blind fingers felt the furrows
on my brow, the creases down my cheeks.
I held the door for my shadow
but it seemed reluctant to go in front.

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2 responses »

  1. I’m going to buy this book! I love the way the poem shifts from the personal to universal, from concrete to abstract; that strange phrase, ‘the verb love, declining itself endlessly’ next to the ‘strobe lights and drum machine’.

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