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

Ian McMillan Reading from His Poems

1The Soft White Pillowcase Boys

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2Pushed Home when the Clouds were still Raw

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3From the Section Dealing with the Loss of Grace

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4The Tennis Ball Factory Poems

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5The Meaning of Life

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6SF Novel

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7What Really Happened To The Buffalo

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8For Me

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9Why Are You Ringing

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10Two Miners Pass in Opposite Directions at Daybreak

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11The Texas Swing Boys' Dadaist Manifesto

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12Resident

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13Sessions

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14Pushing, May 1984

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15Coalpicking, Broomhill

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16Visitors, Armthorpe August 1984

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17Propp's Last Case

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18Action

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

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20Move

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21The Photographer's Subject

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22Just the Facts, Just the

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23Simple Story

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24Man in Hotel Room with Stolen Fork

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25Against Realism

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

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27Landing Practice

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28The Prince of Wales visits Alnwick

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29Cracking Icicles in Totley Tunnel

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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

Books by Ian McMillan