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Image by Mick Mitchell

Poem introduction

'Tempest Avenue'. I still live there, and nothing much has changed in this poem - Mr Ford's retired, Mr Lawley's next door, my mother lives down the street. My son is now sixteen, but everything else is true.

Tempest Avenue

It is 5 am, and I am standing
in the half light bedroom
holding our son. He is finally asleep

and I lay him gently in the cot,
trying not to rattle the toy bear
attached to the bars. Next door

Mr Lowe is having a dream about
the glassworks at Stairfoot. Look:
all the workers have turned to glass,

what a strange dream. Across
the road, Mr Ford is cycling
out of his drive to the pit. He

cycles during the week, takes the car
at weekends, Down the street
my mam is standing at the kitchen

window, looking at our house, thinking
'Our Ian will be asleep. I hope
Mr Ford's squeaky cycle doesn't wake him up.'

And I am being careful, so careful
with these words, laying them
gently into this poem, turning to the door.


from Dad, the Donkey's on Fire: Poems from A Chin? (Carcanet, 1994), copyright © Ian McMillan 1994, used by permission of the author

Recordings

Ian McMillan Reading from his Poems

Tall in the Saddle

1The Soft White Pillowcase Boys

2Pushed Home when the Clouds were still Raw

3From the Section Dealing with the Loss of Grace

4The Tennis Ball Factory Poems

5The Meaning of Life

6SF Novel

7What Really Happened To The Buffalo

8For Me

9Why Are You Ringing

10Two Miners Pass in Opposite Directions at Daybreak

11The Texas Swing Boys' Dadaist Manifesto

12Resident

13Sessions

14Pushing, May 1984

15Coalpicking, Broomhill

16Visitors, Armthorpe August 1984

17Propp's Last Case

18Action

19From an Evening with the Model of "The Venus and the Shaving Brushes"

20Move

21The Photographer's Subject

22Just the Facts, Just the

23Simple Story

24Man in Hotel Room with Stolen Fork

25Against Realism

26Some Poetry Presses I Will Certainly Set Up In The Next Three Weeks

27Landing Practice

28The Prince of Wales visits Alnwick

29Cracking Icicles in Totley Tunnel

31Kake Yourself Comfortable 32Why We Need Libraries 33Pit Closure as Art 34Lilian's Poem 35Husband and Wife

36Tempest Avenue

37Deaths from Ice-Cream

38Ted Hughes is Elvis Presley

39Visit 40Poem Occasioned by the High Incidence of Suicide amongst the Unemployed 41Song for Roof Building (Collected in South Yorkshire Light Industry Park, Barnsley) 42Moon River: Lives of the Great Comedians 43Henry's Skeleton, George's Leg 44Jesus Died from Eating Curtains 45Stone, I Presume 46Still Life Life 47Realism (Nothing Is Ever Finished) 48Dad, the Donkey's On Fire