The Rules of the Kitchen

Vol XXXIV, After Stikklestad

Michael Egan's first pamphlet The River Swam published in 2005 by Paula Brown Publishing and second pamphlet, Folklores, was published in June 2010 by the Knives Forks and Spoons Press. His first full length collection, Steak & Stations, is being published by Penned in the Margins in December. He has been published widely in magazines and journals such as Pen Pusher, Great Works, Poetry Salzburg, Open Wide and Shadowtrain.He is currently working on Succour Magazine's Genius or Not project (a year long collective of poets and writers writing a poem/short story every month) and has recently had poems commissioned for the Liverpool Biennial's Audio Guide.He is also the editor a small magazine called the Binturong Review.


At Stikklestad

Half stout, half mild, leave it there,
no need to row, to waste the land or bear
their lingering legacy.
At Stikklestad, drink-full,
a groggy sleep is all
a man needs to fail, fall.
How water washes all.



We all wander, we all stray,
so shed furs, limp with your heavy weight,
escape the hack of long dreams.
I wandered from dead lust,
ignored hints of my lilt-
ing passion, my faint want.
My ache, my clicking knee.



New Castle

Sworn brothers, like fuck let’s row.
How once I held him down, swore with fists, so
going south I left his end.
Old end, no new blood oath,
old eyes, snake staring south
over glistening myth.
I swept his arms away.



They couldn’t avoid rowing,
their vein rivers manifestly flowing,
fine threads weaving the wild.
Until that wisdom tames,
ugly ice creaks and breaks,
utterances, vague bonds.
Weave names to lay love down.


Elisaveta Yaroslavna

And when your daughter lies down
to a wasteful sleep, a soft eiderdown
holding her last grief, her woe,
ignore all memories,
ignore his ringed dead arms,
instead find other waves
and sleep the seas away.




It may have happened like this:
along a sandstone trail, heather and gorse,
wistful walks through bilberry.
A green knight slept near him,
a roman road led him
and a bruised sun awed him.
He drank from full flashes. 



Miklagaard of avatars,
not of Blackwater guards counting their scars
or of dug-in IED’s.
All men seem imagined
and might dwell aside god.
Avarice dreams are traded
and passed on like arm rings.


Elisaveta Yaroslavna 2

These are words mimicking lust.
Pierced, warm butter is the taste of your lips.
Kissed, that taste stays, love’s layer
of opulence and sins.
O widow to my loins.
O remnant of glimpses.
I write to see you bare.


Saint Olaf

I was little and towered
above him, but came later to his crowd.
Found his pieces, gathered them.
If saints dye their grey hairs,
if they pray with pale girls,
if their bones the priests bless,
if their thin lips are mine.


Einar or Svein

Now hold sway over all Danes
or catch a glint of those wing tilting planes
as choking you cross the bridge.
And your tongue is heavy
and Einar is memory
and whispering men say
a king throws his bow away.


From Stikklestad

Sinew from bone, the cleaving
of the real from ceaseless remembering.
Cling to stale reliquaries.
It is sweat and waking,
it is dead bones breaking
in rotten floors creaking
and the sea’s song calling.



Stern Counsel

Sat me down and cleared away
empty ale cans, ash rancid cups, a tray
stained with fortnight old chow mein
and grabbed me by my collar
as I cried and moaned My war
and drifting are over.
Shook me into silence.




That day remains a vivid
picture missing from an album, a cleared
and white space replaces us.
I was rolling up snow
into balls; head, chest, grew
it, birthed it, made it new.
Watched it melt through the day.




Where are the Cerdicingas?
Where are the loaves burning or promises
cast aside like black crusts?
Earlier we ate sandwiches
encased in foil, creases
eased out, drank, smoked cigars.
In the night snow woke us.


The Sea

All of your black brackish seas
lapping at consciousness, dreamt brinies
cast to stern, haunting waters
abandoned for sure feet.
Anchors fall to sink fast
and tides murmur now hunt.
The sea calls land waster.


Land Waster

Let me cut your living nails
and take scissors to your bone rooted curls.
Prayers are your death rattle.
In your collarless shirt
I remember your gift,
it was a torn Munch print
now unfurled on my desk.




Hugin and Munin rest by a river.
It’s a pot-holed piece of road where water
flows down from that grey veiled hill.
It was there we saw crows
in flocks veiling like clouds.
I said they sought out scraps.
You said they picked at men.


Seven Feet of Ground

Over the phone voices cross
and then revert, nurtured differences
lessen, we voice a shared space.
It’s true for any kin.
If you came, visor down,
I would make out my own
voice promising a tomb.


Stamford Bridge

Tell me they were just stray dogs
not Odin’s greedy wolves stalking, the fog
lingering, now lowering.
Is this field my white bones?
It is bleached memories,
in them I hear echoes
of our shattered endings.