Tag Archives: Poetry

Critique


Critique

By David Milligan-Croft

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Don’t give me

That look.

The one that says

How disappointed

You are

In me.

I see it

All the time.

It’s your default

Expression.

Maybe try

A little positive

Reinforcement

Every once

In a while.

You never know,

It might just work

On you too.

Rather than being 

So judgemental.

.

Sometimes,

I wish

I’d never bought

That damned

Mirror.

.

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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.

.

* * *

.

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.

.

‘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, for a moment like this.

.

.

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Beatified


Ophelia in the water

.

Beatified.

By David Milligan-Croft.

.

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

You, leaning forward,

Nose almost touching the fig bubbles.

.

My fingers, massaging your scalp,

Your temples, your crown – 

You deserve a crown, my Queen.

.

Combing through the conditioner.

The viscous liquid oozing through the teeth

Of the comb and your russet brown hair.

.

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.

.

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.)

.

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,

.

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.

.

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.

.

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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Liberty


Liberty

By David Milligan-Croft

.

A butterfly flew in from the Oasis garden

To the dimly lit cafe interior.

Realising its mistake, it immediately did a U-turn

And headed back the way it came;

Only to be met by a transparent wall.

.

Freedom was so close, yet so unfathomably far.

Its leopard-spotted wings beating hopelessly against glass.

.

I cupped my hand and trapped it between pane and flesh.

Gently, I closed my fingers around it, creating a cage.

As I walked back through the patio door,

I could feel its delicate wings frantically beating 

Against the prison of my palm,

Desperately trying to escape my clutches.

.

Outside, I slowly unfurled my fingers 

And watched it soar into the bright cerulean sky.

.

για τη δέκατη μούσα μου

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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.

.

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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Dandelion Clock – new poem.


‘Nebular’ by Maria Popova.

This poem was inspired by an article I read on The Marginalian by Maria Popova about G.K. Chesterton, called ‘The Dandelion and the Meaning of Life.’

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Dandelion Clock

By David Milligan Croft

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I searched for the meaning of life

In philosophers’ books.

I looked for a reason for being

In great religious texts.

.

But I could not find anything

To assuage the frustration

As to the point

Of my own existence.

.

The sun dimmed

On the page I was writing,

As the Earth slowly rotated me away,

Into the shadows.

.

And there it was, shimmering

In the fading light of dusk.

A dandelion clock, swaying

Gently in a summer zephyr.

.

Its seed pods lifting off 

Into the atmosphere,

Like the universe itself

Exploding into life.

.

The wind would carry it

To its destination –

It did not need to worry what it should be

Or where it might be going.

.

I searched for the meaning of life,

And found it in a dandelion clock –

Either, it is all important,

Or none of it is.

.

I was looking for heaven,

And realised I am already here,

For the briefest, most glorious

Moments in time.

.

And the point of existence,

Is to have existed at all.

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Hawks over Haworth


Hawk hovers over

Wuthering moors, searching for

Cathy’s eidolon.

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