Two Poems by Matthew Paul

Sunday at The Oval with Dad

We hear it coming. A hullabaloo
at the Vauxhall End hoorays into view
as a Mexican wave, and where we’re sat,
in the Pavilion’s top tier, the tuts
of the panamas morph into bathos
as the wave surfs anti-clockwise across
the West Stand. I can almost touch the qualm
becoming sweat that Dad exhales from
intrinsic dread at the thought of joining
in. But he mustn’t do disappointing.
Tanned to teak, he tips his sun-hat aslant,
drops the pencil, and for just that moment
mercurially resolves to live ad hoc:
we throw our arms right up to twelve o’clock.

Trigger Finger

When an oncoming wagon
hides in a passing place
and cedes right of way,

my father acknowledges
the driver’s politeness
not by showing a palm,

nor by giving a thumbs-up,
but by lifting his finger
an inch from the wheel,

like a Sunday-outing farmer
in a brand-new Mercedes
on the Causeway Coast,

who craves the spleen
of Country and Western
to snuff his lifelong ennui.


Matthew Paul lives and works on the outskirts of London. His first collection of poems, The Evening Entertainment, will be published by Eyewear Publishing in 2017. He is the author of two collections of haiku – The Regulars (2006) and The Lammas Lands (2015) – and co-writer/editor (with John Barlow) of Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku (2008), all published by Snapshot Press. He co-edits Presence haiku journal and has contributed to the Guardian’s ‘Country Diary’ column.