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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This poem is taken from PN Review 265, Volume 48 Number 5, May - June 2022.

Five Poems Bill Manhire
Angry Man

He has three barking dogs in the back of the car,
old Silas and… I don’t know the others.
He has parked the car up over the kerb outside the library
and is standing nearby, waiting to see what will happen.

But nothing happens. He stands there all day
and the dogs fall asleep, and he opens the car door
and now the moon and stars are out in the sky
and here is the light by which his children read their books.



Library Song

The man from the Ministry of Health
has placed my books upon his shelf.
Sometimes he takes one down for me
if I sit where he can see.

He does not read books much himself.

This is a happy time,
especially when the day clouds over.
I hold the book all day, all day,
until the time for reading’s over.

His name is Mr Crimson
though the colour of his heart is gray.
I ask him if it is true about his heart
but he says he has not looked and so he cannot say.

He says, The time for reading is over
for the daylight is nearly gone.
This book must now return
to the shelf it rests upon.

The man from the Ministry of Health
has taken my book from me.
He has placed it on the high shelf carefully
with all the other books he has taken away from me.



Pioneer

We need to ford the river.
There’s always the other side to consider.
Whether we think about the other side or not,
we need to ford the river.

The boats go on the river
and the river goes on forever.
We need somewhere to come ashore,
a somewhere we haven’t been before.

Look over there! A giant flightless bird!
A tree shaped like a pear!
Do we feel fear? We don’t. We do?
You know I’ll never agree with you.

We like to think we’re starting to explore
deep into the far and furthermore.
We use words like hitherto a lot,
we sit by the campfire, watch the clock.

Yet even with the heat, we start to shiver.
We really need to talk.
So many things on which we differ!
When to say whence, when to say whither.

But first of all we need to ford the river.



Yawn

His name was Yawn and he came from Iceland.
He started talking about glaciers.
I said, well we have those.
Then it was thermal stuff and bubbling mud.
All that, too, I said. Volcanoes. Ditto.
Waterfalls. Of course.

Then he said, we have no trees, another interesting fact.
We have lots of those, I said. Big forests. Bush.
He said, I don’t think you can even see
where you are going with all those trees.
 
Then he turned on his heel
and vanished into the polar wastes.

Maybe it was Yone, but I will stick with Yawn.
I called after him, words I am still quite proud of:
Well, you can’t beat a good diorama!
Whenever I fall asleep, I think of him.



At Lake Dickinson

This landscape needs a better sky,
something to look the water in the eye.

A single cloud would do,
should you have one on or about you.

This poem is taken from PN Review 265, Volume 48 Number 5, May - June 2022.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk
Further Reading: - Bill Manhire More Poems by... (15) Report by... (1) Articles by... (3) Review by... (1) Interview with... (1) Review of... (1) Translation by... (1)
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