Category Archives: love

A Moment Like This


A Moment Like This.

By David Milligan-Croft.

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I picked an old poetry book off the shelf.

It was ‘The Art of Life’, by Paul Durcan.

Something about its spine caught my eye.

I hadn’t read it in years.

.

I flicked through a few pages and a photograph fell out.

It was of my daughter and I when she was a baby.

I’m wearing a front-facing baby harness

And she is strapped to my chest,

.

Wearing a white, winter bunny onesie.

I’m holding up her bunny ears 

and beaming a smile to the camera.

We’re in Dunham Massey, I think.

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* * *

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I go to my daughter’s bedroom – she’s 16 now –

And show her the photograph.

She laughs and we reminisce. Well, I do.

She was too young to remember, obviously.

.

As I’m leaving, I say, ‘Do you want it,

Or shall I bin it?’

Without looking up from her phone,

She says, ‘That doesn’t work, Dad.

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‘I know you would never do that.’ 

Then, she looks at me and smiles.

I don’t know why I put the photo in the book

In the first place. Perhaps to use as a book mark.

.

Or maybe, a moment like this.

.

.

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Beatified


Ophelia in the water

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Beatified.

By David Milligan-Croft.

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I would wash your hair in a roll-top bath.

You, leaning forward,

Nose almost touching the fig bubbles.

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My fingers, massaging your scalp,

Your temples, your crown – 

You deserve a crown, my Queen.

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Combing through the conditioner.

The viscous liquid oozing through the teeth

Of the comb and your russet brown hair.

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Leaning back, I cradle your head,

Lowering you like the baptised.

Cupping the water to stroke away the lather.

.

Your lustrous hair floating on the surface.

Eyes closed, your face framed

In a perfect oval of foam.

.

για τη δέκατη μούσα μου

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Mix Tape


Hands up, who remembers mix tapes?

I found one the other day, while I was emptying boxes, that an old girlfriend had made for me in the 90s. I couldn’t play it, of course, as I don’t have a tape deck anymore. Or a record player. Or a CD player. In fact, I don’t ‘physically’ own any music. It’s all in the ether. Intangible. Owned by Apple, Spotify, Youtube or some other super corporation.

It got me thinking about how I would go about making one now, if I felt the urge to translate my love through the medium of music to my new-found paramour.

So I wrote a poem about it. As you do.

Then I had an epiphany!

Why not go ahead and actually make the mix tape as part of the poem.

For ‘mix tape’, I mean playlist, obviously. So, here you are. 

(The link to the playlist is at the end.)

Mix Tape.

By David Milligan-Croft

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Don’t talk to me about love;

I was making mix tapes before you were born.

Speaking of which, just how old are you?

I may look old, but inside, I feel 33 1/3.

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It was easier to record from vinyl.

That way you could avoid abrupt endings. 

Fade in, fade out, like a Grandmaster Flash.

If you were slick, you might include excerpts

Of dialogue from old movies,

Or from great speeches like- ‘I have a dream!’

…That one day you’ll kiss me!

(Not sure that’s what MLK had in mind.)

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Recording off the radio was an art form.

You’d need the dexterity of a nuclear fission scientist

And a Watergate wiretapper to operate 

Play, pause and record simultaneously,

Before some schmaltzy DJ chimed in with his drivel.

And if your tape got chewed up

From too much stopping and starting,

You’d have to pull it all out until you found the kinks,

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Straighten it, then stick a pencil in the spool 

And rewind it all back in again.

Praying it doesn’t happen while she’s listening to 

Je t’aime moi non plus.

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I hope you like it.

It took me a whole weekend to put together.

Quite good fun though. Reminiscing, and all that.

I imagine you listening to it in your bedroom.

.

Lying on your bed, looking up at the ceiling.

Your long, velvet hair cascading over the pillow,

Thinking of me, thinking of you. 

Except we’re not Gainsbourg and Birkin.

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The lyrics say things I never could,

Would or should. And are more self-indulgent 

Than a box of Thorntons. But what can I do?

I’m just a 20th Century Boy in love with a 21st century girl.

.

για τη δέκατη μούσα μου

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Mann Up


Sally Mann is an American photographer who courted controversy with her ‘family life‘ series, due to nude depictions of her children growing up at their home in Virginia. And whether the photographs overtly sexualised children.

I haven’t included those shots here, but if you want to, you can see them by visiting Sally Mann’s website. In my opinion they are beautiful and sensitive. And many of us will recognise moments like them from our own children growing up. The controversy isn’t really about child nudity but more about consent to put them in the public domain.

Regardless of this, Mann’s work is challenging, provocative and defiant. And her compositions raise more questions than answers. Below is a selection of powerful shots I wanted to share with the class.

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Truth is a Cruel Mistress


Le baiser de l’Hotel de Ville‘, 1950, Robert Doisneau.

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Truth is a Cruel Mistress.

By David Milligan-Croft.

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Sometimes, I imagine life like a romantic fairy tale.

There’ll be a pounding at my door.

I’ll go to answer it,

And it will be you – standing

In the pouring rain – breathless,

A suitcase in your hand.

.

Or, I am walking down the corridor

At work. And I’ll hear my name

Being called. I’ll turn around, and it’s you,

Statuesque, and ready to run

Toward me.

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Perhaps my phone rings. It’s you. (Of course.)

There’s silence.

Breathing.

Then you say,

‘I need to see you.’

.

Then, I remember that life isn’t a 90-minute

Hollywood trope.

It’s real. And so is 

The fact that you left your job

So you would never have to see me again.

.

The fact, that I haven’t spoken to you since,

The fact, that I haven’t heard your voice since,

The fact, that I haven’t read your words since,

The day,

I told you that you had mistaken my love

For kindness.

.

You ran

As fast, and as far,

As you could

In the opposite direction.

The mere thought of me, repugnant to you.

.

Truth is a cruel mistress.

So I button my coat

And step outside.

The morning sun warms my face.

I hold out my hand to take yours.

I turn to you and smile.

You smile too.

And we walk into a brand new day.

.

για τη δέκατη μούσα

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Lost Love


I met Tom Pow in a Stellenbosch vineyard in South Africa back in the late 90s.

Pretty small world really, as he’s from Scotland and I’m English, but was living in Ireland at the time.

I am fascinated by how people’s paths intersect. Everything that they had to go through prior to that point in time for you to meet. And, perhaps more importantly, why?

One of the things I have carried with me since our meeting, was his poem, ‘Loving, Writing’, from his collection ‘Red Letter Day’.

For me, it encapsulates the beauty and purity of love. Whether or not it lasts is beside the point. The point is that you got to feel that way at all.

Tom Pow

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The Perfect Poetry Antidote


Friday is Library Day for patients on Arden Ward at Stepping Hill Hospital.

And, if you didn’t know already, reading is very good for your mental health. (Probably not if it’s by Piers Morgan or the Tory party manifesto, mind.)

Reading quality literature and poetry, however, is proven to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Quite serendipitously, I came across this collection of poetry by Mary Dickins entitled Happiness FM. I thought her poem, ‘How to administer a poem in an emergency’ was perfectly apt for the group. So, I thought I’d share it with you.

And here is the poem from whence the collection takes its name.

Of course, our visits to the library aren’t just about reading. They’re about social interaction and doing other mindful activities.

While I was writing this post on a rainy Sunday evening in Stockport, a haiku came to mind. So, I’m going to share that with you as well.

The pitter-patter

Of rain outside my window –

Nature’s melody.

Night, night.

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Time to Wise Up


I first became aware of Aimee Mann via her soundtrack for P.T. Anderson’s sensational ensemble movie “Magnolia”.

In fact, Anderson said it was Mann’s lyrics that inspired the screenplay. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so. It features an array of fabulous actors, including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, John C. Riley, Julianne Moore, Melora Walters and a sublime acting masterclass from Tom Cruise. Here’s the trailer:

But it’s Aimee Mann’s classic, ‘literate lyricism’ that I want to revisit. Anderson actually used her lyrics as a dialogue in the movie for Claudia’s character played by Melora Walters:

“Now that I’ve met you,

would you object to,

never seeing each other again?”

Here are three of my favourite songs from the soundtrack, but this time from Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse, which I hadn’t seen before, so I wanted to share them with the class.

Enjoy.

And now, from the movie…

with the entire ensemble.

And here she is doing a cover of The Cars’ classic, ‘Drive’ about self-denial and facing up to alcoholism.

(You can still watch it, just click on the link to YouTube.)

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Drawn to you – new poem.


Drawn to you.

By David Milligan-Croft.

I tried to draw your eye

But it was too big.

The drawing, that is,

Not your actual eye.

This was after two failed attempts

At drawing your whole face.

The first, was too long,

The second, too round.

I could not capture

How perfect you are.

So I decided to draw you

Piece by piercing piece.

First, your left eye – 

The one that tore through

My soul leaving me exposed

And vulnerable.

I felt like I knew you.

Not from a past memory

But from a memory passed. 

(If you believe in that sort of thing.)

Then, I moved on to your chin,

Your nose, I wanted to feel each part of you –

The curve of your eyelid,

The flick of your mascara,

Your russet eyebrows,

Your left ear,

Protruding through

Kobicha hair.

You have a hint

Of an epicanthic fold,

So I ponder your genetic makeup,

Which only adds to your etherealism.

Now, the impish curl

At the corner of your mouth.

The almost imperceptible smile,

On the lips, that only another woman shall kiss. 

My fingertips gently touch the graphite, 

Then draw them to my own.

And I slowly turn the page.

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Hawks over Haworth


Hawk hovers over

Wuthering moors, searching for

Cathy’s eidolon.

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