He has published over 150 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet Laureate for an adult gift shop. Don’t ask.
His work has been broadcast on Radio
Michael was the Scottish Correspondent for the writers’ reference magazine Writers’ Forum, he has worked as a Writer in Residence for East Ayrshire Council, Kilmarnock College, Wellington School, Ayr Academy and is regularly invited to talk to writers’ clubs throughout Scotland.
Recognition for his work includes twice being awarded 3rd place in the Constable Trophy; winning first prize in the Pitlochry Prize (for an unpublished novel) for Blood Tears; and first place in the Dorothy Dunbar Poetry Competition in 2008.
His debut crime novel, Blood Tears will be published in June 2012 by Five Leaves Publishing.
They wur in among the trees, ahint the big hoose et Rozelle.
Richt there oan the grass, like they’d drapped frae a plane.
Huge they wur. Huge wae effort. Huge like a god’s thochts.
-Whiddye mak o’ them? ah asks ma wee boay.
Hud tae drag him away frae the black boax,
afore his een went widescreen.
He pints, finger oot like a dirk
– Dad, that one has a big butt.
- Furgoadsake. You watch way too much telly, son.
‘N the word is arse.
He jist luks up et me n’ says
The Yoke this wan’s ca’ed. He’s hunched ower.
Heid awa tae the side, like Gourock.
Ah move closer fur a guid look.
- Dad, let’s find some branches, so we can play at sword fighting.
Ah run ma hauns ower the granite. See, ye think it’s gray,
but up close it huz a’ these speckles o’ black, n’ flashes o’ green.
-Dad, I’ll be Darth Vader, the wean skips ower
wae twa sticks. -Who are you?
- In a meenit, son. Am huvin’ a moment tae masel’.
Noo, he’s juist starin’ et me n he says
See, son. It’s aboot Jesus n’ his pain. Bit it’s mair than that.
Nature’s ge’in a haun’ here. The stone’s gray like a sufferin’ sky,
n’ the trees are stretchin’ their airms oot tae share a touch.
Tae soothe. The earth is aroon the base reachin’ up
tae pull the granite back in. N’ see here, moss and lichen
…n’ wid ye luk et that? That lichen is like a rid stripe
doon the statue’s ribs. Whaur a wound micht huv been.
Ma boay stoaps wavin’ his sticks aboot,
- Dad, I cannae believe you are actually my dad.
Ah jist luks doon et him n’ says
My black trousers stumbled to a point half way
to the skull-grey cap of my knee
while I steered my way through the corrals
of school playtime, avoiding the gunslinger
glare of bullies, who’d queue
to lassoo with threats.
Pencil point stabbed between my shoulders,
beef-jerky breath in my face
and a low growl in my ear…
….as soon as the bell rings, you’re dead
I was faster than any of them
Knees and fists pumping the air,
I was the best rider
the Pony Express never had.
A half-breed scout, I wore
a Colt pistol under my belt
and an Eagle’s tail feather in my hair.
A combination that won
neither friend or foe
from reservation or ranch
A fall…and the bony plate of my knee
became a wound with hard baked gravel
ground under the torn and grieving skin.
I grew my thumbnail especially
for that moment when the scab was ripe,
when the blood had hardened
to a brown as deep as the colour of apache skin.
I would tease off the scab…
…until baby pink skin winked in the sunlight,
fresh for the next gallop across the prairie
and the race into the unreachable horizon.
She stood anonymous in tweed
among the audience of families,
and behind the press and flash
of the world’s media
as the general stepped back onto
at war’s end
Pulling her handbag
into a hug.
she aimed quiet words
into the ear of a mother at her side.
‘I too have a son with the army.’
Around her the morning grew into itself,
and the sky cleared
save for a solitary cloud
like the shadow cast
from a giant owl aimed
at the heart of the sun.
This was Michael's first collection, which came out in 2004.
It is available to purchase through the Makar Bookshop on this website at a cost of £5, which includes free postage and packaging anywhere in the UK (and for a small additional sum for foreign buyers).
You'll find it in the 'Poetry Pamphlets (assorted)' section - just select In the Raw from the drop down menu at the bottom then click add to cart.