Mike in Finland

Three poems from my latest collection, Falstaff’s Gut.

My new poetry collection, Falstaff's Gut, was published by Ward Wood Publishing in 2014. The collection is actually the creative element of a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing which I completed at Bangor University in 2014. As with all of my publications, the collection can be ordered from the publisher's website: www.wardwoodpublishing.co.uk
or from Amazon, The Book Depository and other online booksellers. A Kindle version is available from Amazon.

I hope you enjoy these three. Please feel free to leave a comment, if you wish.


In the children’s encyclopedia
a door-to-door salesman talked my dad
into buying when I’d just started school,
there was a series of simple, line drawings
to illustrate the curve of the earth’s surface.

A ship steamed out of harbour, diminishing
as it neared the horizon, then dropped
out of sight: first just the funnels visible;
finally, nothing but a trail of smoke.

My dad didn’t want me to miss the boat
for lack of information.

I was left regretting that departure, unsure
if it was the passengers’ homesickness I sensed
or my own loneliness,
standing on the quay,
gazing out to sea
with the peppery smell
of the book’s binding
in the air.

Arrival In Finland

That day I got lost in Hampton Court maze,
the tall hedges leaned closer above me
as I retraced my footsteps, revised
my turnings, and suddenly ran
into my aunt’s arms. It all came back to me

when we entered Finland by ferry
from Stockholm, passing Åland,
which the English invaded in 1854,
with the unlikely consequence
of guaranteeing the Finns their own coinage.

As we approached,
Finland rose piecemeal out of the water,
starting with scattered reefs,
bare rocks just breaking the surface,
skerries with patches of sea grass,
a stunted tree, a string of small islands,
then larger ones, close-packed and wooded.

The sea contracted to a network of channels
weaving in and out of encroaching stone and forest.
Impossible to separate archipelago
from mainland; Finland stepping forward
to greet us with outspread arms.

Falstaff’s Gut

Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.

This man consumes the world,
digests it and transforms it
into flesh and blood and senses.
He heaves his belly into position,
braces his legs, locks his knees.
This gut, trussed up in kersey
and strong stitching, needs no simile
to assert its undeniable existence.

The dimpled, pock-marked skin’s
the colour of cheddar, and clammy;
drops of sweat trickle from folds in fat,
darken clothing where the fit is tightest.

A gut that sags earthwards, dragged
down by its own weight,
like clay that longs to return to its source.

It’s like the globe
suspended on strands of plasticine.
It’s like the ocean
scooped up into a rubber balloon.
It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.

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