A fluttering mix of religion, politics and the plethora of scandals large and small that fall between, Animals is a collection designed to nudge you into wakefulness, like a cat early on a Sunday morning.
In his second collection, Miles Salter takes you by the scruff of the neck and shoves you into a world of smells and sounds – always on the brink of chaos.
From the pandemonium of ‘Two By Two’ where “Ants queued up at the flattened hamster”, to an uneasy peek into Jimmy Savile’s caravan, there’s plenty to catch you with your guard down and slap you sideways.
There’s beauty amid the sorrier tales too, where ageing dogs have eyes that are “milky with lack of sight” and in ‘Apology’ a slap to a child’s backside transforms bath water into “a trickle, a stream, a river/that carried you away from me.”
Others tell entire tales within the confines of a few sparse lines, such as ‘The Gift’, in which a stranger arrives on “a day so hot/the rooftops wobbled” and, later, “sirens made a mess of the quiet”, while in ‘The Horse Rider’s Code of Conduct’, a list of rules melts into yearning with lines like “I reserve the right not to ride a horse/allocated to me but usually I am glad to get close to them,/to know their quietness”.
By the time you reach the end of this weaving, rippling collection of poems, you’ll realise you’ve been reading tales that reek of morality and the lack thereof, and the consequences of that in all lives, great and small.
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