Ian McMillan – two poems

Salt, Pepper, Vinegar, History

Steaming chip-shop and the red-hot chips
And me shaking salt, pepper and vinegar
All over them like I’m some kind of weather.

‘Do you want history with that?’ The woman
Behind the counter asks. Her tattoo is laughing
Or maybe it’s just the way steam makes the shop

Shiver in and out of time. ‘No thanks’ I say,
‘I’ll eat it here’ and she puts away the history,
Beside the pickled eggs on the top shelf.


After My Funeral

I knocked on the window of the community centre,
Reincarnated as an owl. There was loud laughter

Inside, and a telling of stories and singing of songs.
One person told that story about me and the ring.

One person told that story about me and the tractor.
One person told that story about me and that teacher

Who gave me a dustpan and brush that time. We’re all
Stories, remembered later. ‘Look, everybody, an owl

At the window!’ Someone said. My knocking grew louder
And someone pointed at me with a long loaded finger.


Ian is poet-in-residence for The Academy of Urbanism and Barnsley FC. He presents The Verb every week on BBC Radio 3 and he’s appeared on BBC Breakfast, Coast, Countryfile, Pointless Celebrities, The Yorkshire Dales and The Lakes (amongst many others). He’s also been a castaway on Desert Island Discs.

His To Fold the Evening Star – New and Selected Poems was published last year by Carcanet.

Previously, Ian was resident poet for English National Opera, UK Trade & Investment, Yorkshire TV’s Investigative Poet and Humberside Police’s Beat Poet. Cats make him sneeze.

Ian’s website is at www.ian-mcmillan.co.uk and tweets to his 38,000 followers @IMcMillan

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