London Grip Poetry Review – Michael W Thomas

Merryn Williams casts an eye over a new collection by Michael W Thomas

The Stations of the Day 
Michael W. Thomas
Black Pear Press
ISBN 978-1-910322-97-0
64 pp       £7

Although this is a very recent collection, the sequence ‘When you were Young’ takes us back to the 1960s, a Catholic upbringing, and school English lessons where children were taught about skylarks, foreign fields and the Charge of the Light Brigade. That’s what a whole generation thought poetry was. It doesn’t appeal to Michael Thomas, whose work is distinctively modern. To demonstrate this I can’t do better than quote the whole of ‘Harbours Hill’, with its shock opening:

One day I shall return to Harbours Hill
and die.  On its only street
cambered, gritted the colour of headache,
against the fall of January stars
I shall let my eyes roll back
to see what my mind makes
of the last quaint shuffle of life ….

having looked in the window
of the village’s one shop,
how it gathers little marvels
of winter light on stuff it never sells ….

having walked the greenish length
of the path beside the unattended church
to see the berries drowse in their blood
between the railing-spikes….

having stood in the church itself
In case the breathing dust
should work loose a word
from a long-immured prayer.

On the only street
at the mouth of the path
I shall set like a tumbler,
my bones brewing a forward roll
so when it comes I fold soundlessly,
ball up where the railings
meet scarps of moss.

Mulch to mulch
preserved a while 
as a randomness of sockets
till the grasses of spring fill my eyes,
lush over the whitened nooks
in which a passenger spirit
might once have bided its time.

This is a powerful poem which speaks, if I understand it rightly, about the loss of religion and a deadly boring childhood.

In the last but one section, ‘Endpapers’, Thomas contemplates, ‘the slowing of your blood’. ‘Time’s clock’ ‘flips back to zero’. We’re all getting older, and the future may be frightening, but the poet can still derive pleasure from the sight of a child being pushed in a buggy.

There are several very melancholy poems here, but Thomas is actually an amusing writer, and concludes with a sequence, ‘Feste Packs’ which gives a new slant on the cast of Twelfth Night.