Poetry by Ian McMillan and others

To go with our Ian McMillan cover story, 3 June, here's one of his poems and more from his publisher Carcanet

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Poem Occasioned by the High Incidence of Suicide amongst the Unemployed
Ian McMillan

Now then, fatha, how’s your Fred?
They found him in the kitchen with a bullet in his head.

Now then, fatha, how’s your John?
They found him in the river
with his donkey jacket on.

Now then, fatha, how’s your Bill?
He jumped under a bus
on Spital Hill.

Now then, fatha, how’s your Tom?
He blew hissen to pieces
with a homemade bomb.

Now then, fatha, how’s your Pete?
He’s hanging off a lamp post
on Market Street.

Now then, fatha, how’s your Rex?
He strangled hissen
wi’ his wedding kex.

Now then, fatha, how’s your Stan?
He brayed hissen to death
wi’ a watterin can.

Now then, fatha, wheers the wives?
They’re cutting their sens
wi’ carving knives.

From To Fold the Evening Star (2016)

The Mobile Library
Martina Evans

It came once a fortnight
and I went under the bed
scrabbling for overdue books,
balls of u and mice skating
across the linoleum.

It parked at the cross
for I don’t know how long
and sometimes if I wasn’t ready
with the books, I’d look out
and it would be gone.

Why didn’t you tell me sooner?
I’d run out breathing anxious breaths
that tasted like frozen lemonade.

And that was the best thing
when I knew that it was still there,
my feet pressing into the deep steps.

From The Windows of Graceland: New and Selected Poems (2016)

What Passes Through
Sheri Benning

November sky: a mouth
that has smoked too much for years. Cold

that could make you bleed, thin
whistle of sun.

Running on scabbed ice. Poplar death,
familiar smell of what passes through dark:

menses breath sweat.

That time of day when the membrane
that keeps us separate begins

to fray – sudden rip of the heart,
wolf-flick on the back of the eye.

Errata? Look again.
Only the sky’s gaunt skin, but I saw something.

From The Season’s Vagrant Light: New and Selected Poems (2015)

Ian McMillan photo: Rebecca Lupton

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