Mike Barlow



Ten hours it took, give or take.
Longer than brain surgery.
But we had a deal.
The room exploded with applause.
Interpreters laughed together
in one another’s languages.

But outside, the press tent was empty,
flaps open, mics unplugged, chairs
tipped and scattered by news
of news breaking somewhere else:
we weren’t to know then how God’s
twin armies had taken advantage
of our ten hour lapse of faith.

His face showed not a trace.
His take on a free press just one
raised eyebrow. War or treaty
a handshake counts for nil
without the cameras, questions,
the guile of the well-honed statement.

So we sat down to wait.
From his inside pocket
he took out a deck of cards,
peeled the cellophane, cut –
my deal. We’d nothing left
to offer history, so this
was strictly for the footnotes.
MIKE BARLOW‘s first collection ‘Living on the Difference’ (Smith/Doorstop 2004) was overall winner in the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition and short-listed for the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize for best first collection. His second collection, ‘Another Place’ was published by Salt in 2007. His pamphlet, ‘Amicable Numbers’, a winner in the 2008 Templar Pamphlet Competition, was the Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice, Spring 2009. His third full collection, ‘Charmed Lives’ was published by Smith/Doorstop in April, 2014.

Read more by Mike Barlow:

Author website
Selection of poems at poetry pf