Mike Farren

Mike Farren - Photo: Phil Jackson

Mike Farren has been placed and commended in several competitions, including as ‘canto’ winner for Poem of the North (2018) and winner of the Saltaire Festival and Ilkley Literature Festival poetry competitions in 2020. His pamphlets are ‘Pierrot and His Mother’ (Templar), ‘All of the Moons’ (Yaffle) and ‘Smithereens’ (4Word). His debut collection, ‘Backendish’, is forthcoming from Sentinel.

Please visit: mikefarren.co.uk

In the Market Café, Heraklion

He’s looking at us,
with his sightless
eye – this rabbit,
skinned, who’s hanging
from a hook
outside a butcher’s
stall that closed
two hours ago.

He sees it all:
the white wine in
a red wine bottle,
the dish the English

menu says is fishes
white flesh lying
in a yellow
slick of oil.
We’re strangers and
he feeds on our
discomfort, takes
the side of his
own gods, even
the ones who flayed him
bare and left him
                                     hanging here.

Mystra, before the fall
1460 / 2008

Buildings that look to have sprung up from the earth
fully-formed, as if they had been weathered
from the primordial rock. With this solidity
               what can ever change?

Looking across the plain where Sparta still
stands, as in the days of gods and heroes,
where vines and olives grow and where the goats
               perch on impossible rocks,

who can hear the rumour that the world
is about to turn upside down – the land
that we, being ξένος, look on as eternal
               is about to be transformed?

And if we listened hard enough, could we
hear also the philosophers’ debate
ring through millennia, that all must change
               and all must stay the same?

To the city
̓εις την πολιν

I went to the city once. I was young
and thought that that made it my country.

I hadn’t understood it was the city
for unnumbered countries, some real, some
of desire, some of the intellect.

And I moved through the city and the city
moved through me and a man with whom
I didn’t share a language led me to
the passages Procopius couldn’t tell
his time about – and left me there.

And, stopping in the home of holy wisdom,
I found it full of awe and emptiness.

And I passed the shop whose owner’s only word
was Yes, and the stall where a child half my age
spoke all the tongues of Babel.

                                                    I sought
the spirit of that place and found what left me
only able to remain upright if I ran
fast enough to lose myself in millennia.

Poetry in this post: © Mike Farren
Published with the permission of Mike Farren