Skip to main content

New Poem by Michael Egan

Eyewear is pleased to feature a new poem by Michael Egan today.  Egan is from Liverpool.  A pamphlet, The River Swam, was published in 2005 by Paula Brown Publishing and a second, Folklores, in 2010 by The Knives Forks and Spoons Press.  His first full length collection Steak & Stations was published by Penned in the Margins in December 2010.  Two further pamphlets are due out in early 2011 (I Went to the Ship, Erbacce; After Stikklestad, The Knives Forks and Spoons Press).  He is currently working on an anthology of poetry in his Motivist form and a second full collection, Monsieur Dassonville and His Duck.

He Never Got To Caen

Pratt was his Norman name and Ramavath his wished for Indian grandmother’s.
His true name he kept hidden in hollows beside rivers or down the crevices of pub couches.
When he was done with raking dunes so they sloped at the right angles down to the Irish Sea
he’d cross flat sprout sprouting fields to Burscough and his corrugated hut, his flotsam bed.
I met him on an old road near Snape Green when I’d been walking since winter
so my feet were as black as the brogues I’d set off in and as hard as tanned leather.
“I never even got to Caen,” he said, draining his mild, pulled out a bitten through rag
and mumbled “my father gave me this pennant, this peace munching dove.”
Repeated it three times like Tolstoy's hermits, but drunk we didn’t feel the high summer heat
anneal our necks and the midges like awls piercing our skin; melted metal, bored out wood.
“I was an ancient son of Scarisbrick,” he said when we reached his hut by a bend in the Alt,
“last of a lost lot, I promised to take this rag to Caen where others like it might flutter still.”
As summer ending rain titter-tattered on his shack’s roof he sucked on the cloth
like he was sucking out the memories of his walking, the flavours of his guilt.
“I slept on a bench in Portsmouth, woke on a ferry to Cherbourg, naked and bruised,
spent that winter raising marquees searching for Mont St Michel but only found giants
living beneath the stones of Carnac, ran from them along a spit of land
then, naked still, let my body fall into Biscay’s Bay and was found by a fisherwoman
near Suazon before she tossed me back, more bruised, with the day’s bad catch
so I was drowned and drowned again until I was pulled into Brest’s bosom
and taken for a myth, a man made from the depths of the sea’s tossing dreams,
given over to a writer who wintered in a villa on the Isle-de-Batz looking south to Roscoff
but all the words of my story had left me and I clung only to my cloth, now torn, now ruined,
so he let me take passage to Rosslare where I fell into a sleep and did not wake
until I’d wandered my way home and saw those ragged dunes, all piled upon and crumbling,
so wiped my brow with the last colours of my cloth, the faded heralding of my name,
and for months I raked the sand, forgot that name and with each reshaped dune
I thought of Caen, her cathedral and stone, her leftover Norman sons, their scalps
no longer harshly shaven, heads hanging in the lessening of memory, wavering, lost to time.”

poem by Michael Egan; published online with permission of the author


Popular posts from this blog

Review of the new Simple Minds album - Walk Between Worlds

Taste is a matter of opinion - or so goes one opinion. Aesthetics, a branch of pistols at dawn, is unlikely to become unruffled and resolved any time soon, and meantime it is possible to argue, in this post-post-modern age, an age of voter rage, that political opinion trumps taste anyway. We like what we say is art. And what we say is art is what likes us.

Simple Minds - the Scottish band founded around 1977 with the pale faces and beautiful cheekbones, and perfect indie hair cuts - comes from a time before that - from a Glasgow of poverty and working-class socialism, and religiosity, in a pre-Internet time when the heights of modernity were signalled by Kraftwerk, large synthesisers, and dancing like Bowie at 3 am in a Berlin club.

To say that early Simple Minds was mannered is like accusing Joyce of being experimental. Doh. The band sought to merge the icy innovations of German music with British and American pioneers of glam and proto-punk, like Iggy Pop; their heroes were contrived,…


Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand


With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.