Lines from No-Man's-Land

Lines from No Man's Land - Michael Daugherty

This collection of fifty or so poems is actually made up of three smaller collections. The first, "Once Upon a Time Please", contains only three poems I would want to return to again and again. "Berlin 29/1/33", "Both Sides", and this one:

 

ANYONE'S

 

In one room of a damned metropolis
a lonely madman works on a plan.

 

In an all-night corner coffee bar
a statistic prays for one last fix.

 

Under frozen branches in black park
pale fingers fumble with elastic.

 

Twelve inches away from the late-night news
a myopic spinster weeps in colour.

 

Someone somewhere begins a letter
to anyone's silent son or daughter.

 

The third collection, "Lines from No Man's Land", seems to be about a failed marriage. It is simply a poet whingeing. It is of no particular artistic merit, and of no interest to anyone else. Therapeutic writing, and better left unpublished.

 

However - and I do hope you are still with me, for this is a big however - the second collection, "Love Should Be", is a series of gems in which the poet sees and feels and notes in perfectly crafted lines what others see but lack the imagination to feel or the will, or the skill, to note. As I say, they are all gems, but I must draw attention to "Do You Need Love?":

 

DO YOU NEED LOVE?

 

He fought shy

 

of fighting at all,
thus becoming a target
impossible to miss.

 

He was guilty
of being an innocent,
the only unforgivable

 

crime in the hard
yard of playtime.

 

Teachers were deaf
as parents were blind,
his inevitable death
a last lonely yes

 

to the one question
nobody asked him.

 

And finally, my own personal favourite from this whole collection, a six-star poem if ever there was one, "Wheat Field With Crows (for Vincent and too many others)" - the Vincent being, I presume, Vincent van Gogh. It is perfect, but I am not going to quote it. Beg, borrow or buy the book and read it for yourselves.

 

And now, how many stars? When five-star work is mixed with three and four-star work, that should, I suppose, mean four stars. But in this case there is certainly one six-star poem, possibly two or three, and that must raise the average, so five stars? But some poets, like Elizabeth Bartlett, never whinge! Four-and-a-half, then.