12NOW: Peter Adair

Peter Adair was born in 1956 in Belfast and, after an abrupt departure from school, studied as a mature student at the University of Ulster, Coleraine. Mairtin Crawford published several of his poems in The Big Spoon in the 1990s. The lost years followed, etc., etc. (a misery memoir can be commissioned…).

His poem, ‘Dear‘ won the FSNI National Poetry Competition 2016 in the Published Category. In 2015, he was a winner of the Translink / Poetry NI poetry competition; his winning poem was published as a broadside.

Recent poems have appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, FourXFour, Panning for Poems, Snakeskin, I am not a silent poet, The Galway Press and other journals. Peter has also featured in the Lagan Press Poetry Originals series. He was pleased to have a poem in the 2016 Poetry NI P.O.E.T. e-chapbook. In earlier years he had a variety of jobs, from labourer to bookseller; latterly he has passed through day centres as a ‘service user’. Peter sometimes tweets poems at micropoetry. He lives in Bangor, Co Down.

Twitter: @padair226

Ledger, 1939

At Neil’s,
the coal merchant,
I dipped my nib
and totted up
with patient strokes
the ledger’s columns,
sums in my head
of loss and gain,
with no calculator, no Excel –
just my hand, my brain.

Daydreams, daydreams…
I gazed across the street
at the tiny flower girl –
some thought her crazed –
singing at her scented stall,
and, in my reverie,
I too planted roses in my hair
and danced beside her
in the cold Bangor air:
scattering pansies,
or weaving wreathes
for butchered Europe
bleeding to death

Now, in old age,
my nib scrapes
the columned page
and daydreams remain,
but today I figure out
line by line
the price we pay
for life, for time,
and calculate
in the ledger
of my brain

a life’s loss, a life’s gain.


You hint, dear friend, I’ve lived too long, bed-blocking
the exit suite, frittering my seconds away.
‘It’s time to downsize,’ you don’t say, ‘you shockingly
selfish old get.’ To what? A box? A house of clay?

Greedy for breath, I get full whack from the NHS,
lose count of pills, minor ops, inserted bits.
I grant you, I’m guilty for this shambling wreck:
lazy feet, booze, takeaways, a fat-filled diet.

Yet still, perversely, I postpone the final change
to Oblivion Street – that unsalable house no owner
leaves. So I’m staying put, thanks. Here. Now. Strange,
this wicked urge to live, an old dog gnawing a bone,

though some days, when I’m whipped on the back
or flea-bitten, I could lie in and never wake.