A monster made of grass, a disgusting wedding present, a Baby Parade. A series of capricious and lazily malevolent authority figures, wielding power with impunity, excused and indulged by teams of complicit functionaries.  Awful children behaving abominably; awful adults trapped in physical and emotional cages partly of their own making.


In These Are Not My Dreams…, the rules of the ordinary world are twisted and undermined, as Michael Conley’s writing explores how readily we welcome the cruel and absurd into our everyday lives. Picking up some of the same themes and characters from his acclaimed 2019 prose collection Flare and Falter, these poems hum with an oddball energy that urges the reader to take the ridiculous seriously. 

Pre-order copies of 'These Are Not My Dreams And Anyway Nothing Here Is Purple' can be made here. 

Michael Conley

Michael Conley is a poetry and prose writer from Manchester, UK.  His poetry has appeared in magazines including Rialto, Magma, Butcher's Dog, Strix and Interpreters House, and his first pamphlet, Aquarium, was published by Flarestack.  His work has been Highly Commended in the Forward Prize.  His prose work has been shortlisted for the Manchester Fiction Prize, and his collection of short stories, 'Flare and Falter', was published by Splice in 2019 and longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

Baby Parade

After Charles Simic

Hope you’re enjoying your Baby Parade, babies! 

I shouted as they paraded up and down. 

We’re not babies! the little girl yelled.  

And it’s not a Baby Parade! the little boy added. 

It sure looked like a Baby Parade to me.  

Where did they get off, these two, thinking 

they could just have a parade whenever they chose to?

The little boy had found pink feathers to wear

and round, green-rimmed sunglasses.  

The little girl had a blue plastic bugle. Welcome

welcome welcome to the big parade, she sang. 

The dog was joining in, but not with enough focus

to be seriously considered a parade member.

All this, by the way, was contained within their front garden.

And that was the whole parade. Of course it was:

they didn’t know anyone except their own parents.

What is this parade even in honour of? I asked, 

but by this time they were ignoring me.  

I watched, in disbelief, a little while longer.

Nice try, idiots, I whispered, shaking my head.  Nice try.

A Thrill 

for J.E.

and as you finish your cigarette

thinking god when is something finally

going to happen in this town

where even your exhaled smoke

seems to cling to the still air

his mossy hand is already gripping

the chair opposite and you nod

for him to sit.  What covers his body

and face is a thick green layer

of dry grass. Is this

an art thing? you ask.  He shrugs,

rustling like the air inside a conch.

Nobody else is making a fuss,

so you don’t.  There’s so much grass

you can’t see any skin, only

the mushroomy whites surrounding

the dark bark-brown of his eyes

and, when he yawns, the delicate,

intimate kittenpaw pink

of his wet mouth.  He leans in,

palms flat on the table.  They’ve done

an excellent job, you think:

you really can’t see any skin at all.

The smell is dead leaves, snails,

sweet tree sap.  I get a real thrill,

he whispers, from chasing people.

Leans back, two grainy brown handprints

either side of your coffee cup.

He looks at you and blinks slowly.

You stand up.  He stands up.