The Sunday Poem – Mike Barlow


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

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.

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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