By Mike Barlow
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These poems are concerned with the way our world can be other than it seems, where the certainties of belonging, borders, history and faith can shift, become illusory, and launch us into unsettling waters.
“Here we find stories, steeped in mesmeric imagery, of voyages and of islands…This is imaginative work. Barlow’s poems continue, throughout the collection, to be arresting, evocative, tantalising.” Peter Kennedy, londongrip
“The collection zings with the splash of the sea, with voices borrowed and adopted, and landscapes rich with the vocabulary Barlow bestows upon them. Reading the titles alone feels transformative.”
“…like the master balloonist, he knows exactly when to add fire, when to discard ballast, and how to bring us safely back to land, often miles from where we started.” Penny Boxall, Sabotage.
The Isle of Discussion
You’ll step ashore, breathe the island’s brokered air,
subverted history, quiet resolutions, easements.
And I’ll respond as if you were my own, you
with your grudges, your alien ways, me
resentful, old heart choked with judgement.
Ushered by gulls and oystercatchers, a handshake
marks a listening here.We’ll make our way
through old oaks to the settlement, its trace
of ditch and wall a narrative of drawn blood,
covetings, skirmishes – millennia’s worth.
And still we’re armed to the teeth with grievance,
ready as ever to take offence at the first
crossed line, thoughtless glance. So let us stay
as long as it takes, follow the water’s edge
until we end up where we started, changed.
Let us grow thin on our differences, discover
the knack of wearing one another’s skin.
Let the clamour of the mainland swallow itself
in the wind. When dusk arrives we’ll ponder
the lights going on back there, where no one listens.