Poem from Dan Wyke

Dan Wyke

I’ve seen a number of Dan Wyke’s poems online and in magazines, including the ever-impressive New Walk where this poem first appeared, and I’ve moved from being intrigued by his work to somewhat fascinated. He’s got a great knack for compression and his poems always pack a punch. His debut collection Waiting For The Sky To Fall is out from Waterloo Press, and he blogs at http://otherlivespoetry.blogspot.com/

Summer Fête

It’s a beautiful day…
white clouds and blue sky.

A microphone screeches.
The leader of the local branch of the British Legion
is pleased the weather
has been kind to us,

and would like to welcome
Lance-Corporal Hodgkins
of the Mercian Regiment –
tragically wounded,
honourably discharged –
to kick off this afternoon’s entertainment.

Lance-Corporal Hodgkins
is a colossal eighteen-year-old
squeezed into a wheelchair.

He is determined, apparently,
not to let the loss of a limb
prevent him from leading a normal life.

Perhaps we’ll hear from him later.


A brass band starts playing.

Hoops are thrown and toy rats are hit with a mallet.

The smell of sausages cooking
drifts across the village green.

Bell’s whisky is first prize for the raffle.
A basket of pink bath products
awaits the runner-up.

A crowd swarms around the cake stall.
Within seconds it is stripped bare.

Dick Francis and Wilbur Smith
are once again best sellers
over at the book stall.

Someone has thoughtfully donated
‘Microwave Cookery’
and ‘The Sayings of Jesus Christ’.
And which radical, I wonder,
decided to get rid of
the selected poems of Andrei Voznesensky,
published by Grove Press, New York, in 1963?

With all books priced at 20p
there are bound to be
some bruised ribs in the morning.


Outside The Tiger Inn,
the wife of a former Brigadier
is standing talking to Lance-Corporal Hodgkins,
who is holding his third pint of Stella…

They have been on holiday somewhere warm,
in the Caribbean.
Her mottled brown hands
are weighed down by gold rings
like a pianist’s.

Two Thai women in purple kimonos
circulate with a large Tupperware container
of complimentary prawn crackers.

The grand finale
features a troupe of under-fives
in green lederhosen,
dancing to songs from ‘The Sound of Music’.

It has been a wonderful afternoon,
the master of ceremonies announces.
And he hopes that now
the church roof will be able to receive
the attention it deserves.


In the car park,
Lance-Corporal Hodgkins is helped
by his mother, or an older girlfriend,
up a ramp and into the back
of a high-roofed vehicle.

As it passes, we can see him, chin on chest,
stuck there
like an exhibit in a glass case.

Read more from Dan here and here

  1. June 29th, 2011

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