Michael Tolkien



You were right to be stunned
by losing the spruce:
a thirty foot tail the northerly gale
blasted from its spine and flattened
over a wall, just wide of owners
who'd stripped away shallow
roots that nestled too near.

It stood for your eleven years,
sun-tinged, billowing
behind Guy Fawkes fires,
sheltering under its elbows
dens you thatched with plant
straws and sycamore sticks.


Now the red-brick superstore's
an open wound, and my neighbour's
sighing about lost roses
and the going rate of dried juniper.
I tell him it's spruce.
He agrees:
So much tidier!

I'm dreading chain saws,
the burnt tree-flesh smell,
men happy as harpooners
gutting a whale.



This book can  be obtained from Forest Books, Amazon or direct from the author (use Contact page)

A5 soft covers    

84pp, monochrome illustrations


Exposures asks by means of various protagonists: to what degree and quality of light do we expose our experience of joy, fulfilment, loss or confusion? A theme underlies each of the four parts: how we relate; ways of shoring up identity; means of self-expression; searching for more than meets the eye. All end on a positive and challenging note. As in Outstripping Gravity anticipations and flashbacks provide a kind of 'narrative' coherence.


Earlier versions of some of these poems have appeared in: Agenda, Envoi, Leicester Poetry Soc. Anthologies'98 , Fatchance, Other Poetry, Seam, Stanza (Leicester Poetry Soc. journal), Staple, Tears in the Fence, The Interpreter's House, The Rialto.

Thanks are due to John Lucas at Shoestring Press for permission to incorporate or adapt sixteen poems from their finely presented booklet Reaching for a Stranger.
The author is especially grateful to John Forth and Robert Hamberger for their comments on many points of detail and arrangement. He also wishes to thank other members of a workshop group crucial in sustaining his belief in writing since 1994: Allan Baker, Amanda Dalton, Katie Daniels, Mark Goodwin, Helen Johnson, Chris Jones, Marion Mathieu and Pam Thompson.
The cover illustration is from an original woodcut by Edward Walters (1899-1978), printed in 1937 at his press at Primrose Hill, London.



' Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.'

( Jonathan Swift: Thoughts, 1711.)