Michael McGill

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the poet

Michael McGill is a writer from Edinburgh whose work has recently appeared in The Interpreter’s House, Lunate, The Haiku Quarterly and elsewhere. Michael also has work in the Scottish Poetry Library’s Poems by and for Social Workers anthology. As well as performing for Big Word Performance Poetry in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, Michael has appeared in several episodes of BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. His work has also been featured on the Micro podcast.

the poems

Puppy Dog Man

00:00 / 02:01
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            I thought I saw a puppy dog.

            I did! I did! I saw the Puppy Dog Man!


            Baroompta-doo-da.

            Walk tall, Puppy Dog,

            Puppy Dog, walk tall –


            Hey there, Puppy Dog Man –

            Puppy Dog Man never understand;

            never understand,

            little Puppy Dog Man, never understand –


            Let's talk man to man,

            acrobat to magician,

            Devil to Christian,

            honest man to


            politician on the street, drowning

            in a sea of integrity,

            of humanity; 'Such things

            as these don't please His Majesty!'


            Baroompta

            – do do do.


            Hello? Oliver Speaking speaking.

            I was talking to the dog,

            Maury. Please,

            you're annoying me.


            Baroompta-doo-da.

            Lie low, Puppy Dog,

            Puppy Dog, lie low –


            Hey there, Puppy Dog Man –

            Puppy Dog Man take me underground;

            take me underground,

            little Puppy Dog Man, take me underground –


            New street! New street! I wanna

            live in a new street. I wanna live

            in your face. I wanna live

            in the warm puppy dog folds

            of your skin. Yeah, I wanna

            live there, man.


            Woof! Woof!


            Baroompta-doo-da –


            walkin' hand in hand

            with Puppy Dog Man …

Pyjamas in the Snow

00:00 / 02:07
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Free postcards were scattered all over New York then, filed in metal displays on the walls of clubs and coffee shops, and I’d collect them and tuck them away in my journal, stumbling around like a 1996 Hansel and Gretel reject, and it was January and everywhere was lit like a still from a Blondie video, and sometimes I’d order a Hazelnut Latte and a Sour Cream Mini Bundt Cake, and I’d write home using one of these postcards, back when home-whilst-travelling was a strange place, an exotic village elsewhere, a solipsist’s mirage, a narcissist’s daydream, and then I’d go to the Post Office on East 34th Street and watch these postcards take flight, because I was living life in Technicolor then, but, oh, that boy back at the hostel was a strange one, and he slept in the bed opposite mine in the dorm, and he’d talk about how much he missed ‘The Bay’ and I’d look puzzled, and he asked me why I’d never been to Ireland, and he laughed when I replied, 'Because it’s so far away,' and he seemed homesick and lost, and very sad, so I showed him my postcards, and one was RuPaul’s face in close-up, and he said, 'She’s gorgeous!' – but he’d turn shifty most evenings when a note was stuck to the door because he was late paying for his bed, and the word REMINDER would sit at the top of the page in cold black font, and then he’d disappear for a time and come back later looking dishevelled and used, and then the note on the door would disappear, and one day it was time to pack and head to JFK, and he wasn’t there so I left the RuPaul postcard on his pillow, and I never said goodbye – and back then Jackie 60 nightclub had a hotline you’d call, yeah, it was listed in Time Out, and one night I stood in a phone booth in the lobby of the hostel, and a recorded voice said the theme that week was Scotland and the dress code was ‘tartan tartan tartan’ and, oh, how I wish I’d gone to Jackie 60 in my tartan pyjamas, walking through Manhattan in the snow, but I never did.

Celluloid Clown

00:00 / 01:11
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            'Your poem isn’t a fit

            for us,' the email read.


            I recall him

            emerging; black

            biro, yellow Post-it.

            I recall the usual

            questions: 'To and or

            to ampersand?' etc., etc.


            What is to become

            of him, I wonder? He doesn’t fit

            anywhere, it seems.


            Still, he remains

            my three-line

            darling; long-lost

            relative of that scrawled

            first draft.


            'Your poem isn’t a fit

            for us,' the email read.


            Yes, I know he ended

            up like a circus

            clown from some campy

            old film. You know the type

            of character: always a criminal

            in hiding (for what are celluloid

            clowns really, but painted

            criminals?).


            'Your poem isn’t a fit

            for us,' the email read.


            In his final scene, he is led

            to the jailhouse. He hands

            over his dog (a Boston

            Terrier) to a young girl

            and says, 'Take care of him,

            Cheryl, he’s a good ‘un.'


            Then he walks away – fade

            to black.

Publishing credits

Puppy Dog Man / Celluloid Clown:

  exclusive first publication by iamb

Pyjamas in the Snow: Anser Journal