Peter Daniels

Peter Daniels: Featured Poet


In the yellow water pail
two blue mice are floating.
They splashed through my sleep
last night, and I ignored them.

On the porch, three more mice
lie in the bottom of a dry pail,
withered, with a few old leaves,
and a scattering of droppings.

One mouse looks nibbled,
keeping the others alive
to chase the walls a while
inside the plastic drum.

How long before they died?
We could lie in wait and
count how many fall in:
but simpler to set some traps.

I throw the crisp mice out,
and this morning’s two
wet and bloated ones,
with the water they drowned in,

scrape out the bucket of dried
mouseturds under the pump:
remember tonight
to keep the lid down on the water.


Peter Daniels has twice won the Poetry Business pamphlet competition, in 1991 and 1999, and came first in the 2002 Ledbury, the 2008 Arvon, and the 2010 TLS and Ver Poets competitions. He returned to pamphlets with Work & Food from Mulfran Press in 2010, and Mr Luczinski Makes a Move is forthcoming from HappenStance in 2011. As well as his own poems he is working on translations from the Russian of Vladislav Khodasevich. Peter lives in Stoke Newington, London.

2 thoughts on “Peter Daniels: Featured Poet”

  1. Your poem is sticking in my head and in my heart, Peter. You “caught” me with that first verse. For me it’s about many things – including the importance of trying to pay attention to things, and to care about the details, and about compassion, and about trying to learn from experiences/ mistakes – to keep trying to pay better attention to things in our daily lives. Thanks very much for this excellent poem p.s. I’ve caught mice on two different occasions in the waste can in my room at work. I was very glad because it meant I was able to release them outside – so I helped them avoid the possible fate of being stuck in those awful glue traps that a pest control company has put around our workplace…

  2. I see more in this poem the more often I read it – it is so strongly connected to our own responsibility in almost everything. The lines “They splashed through my sleep
    last night, and I ignored them.” particularly resonate. And the question in the middle. It made me go outside and check that the lid was on our water butt. Thanks for a very thought-provoking read.

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