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We are the Walrus / Pete Mullineaux

We are the Walrus

By: Pete Mullineaux

Pete Mullineaux’s fifth collection is chock full of ‘strange but true’ surprises: from Plato to pangolins, Microsoft Windows to walruses, foxes to fireworks – offering a serious but at the same time playful exploration of Nature alongside human nature, with a particular focus on ecological concerns and our planet’s vulnerability. “Reading Pete Mullineaux’s new collection, you want to sing along, lift your ba...
ISBN 978-1-915022-23-3
Pub Date Tuesday, November 01, 2022
Page Count 82
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Pete Mullineaux’s fifth collection is chock full of ‘strange but true’ surprises: from Plato to pangolins, Microsoft Windows to walruses, foxes to fireworks – offering a serious but at the same time playful exploration of Nature alongside human nature, with a particular focus on ecological concerns and our planet’s vulnerability. 

“Reading Pete Mullineaux’s new collection, you want to sing along, lift your banner, shake your fist – dance. More Basho than Beckett – his poetry ranges somewhere between the Green Man and the curious child. A compassionate heart beats in every line.”

          Tony Curtis

“He offers us brief respite from an ever darker world. Here are ‘lockdown poems’ in the best possible sense of the term: by turn humorous, intimate, discursive or very short, they direct our attention to small wonders in the fields and woods around us, or to childhood memories recovered thanks to the strange quietness of a stricken world. Whether it’s observing A bullfinch (is) perched/on the edge/of a flower pot, or marvelling at a music teacher’s magic fiddle, it allows us to glimpse that elusive thing called ‘hope’.” 

          Geraldine Mitchell

“There’s never a dull moment it seems in Mullineaux’s brilliant imagination. Written with a deft touch and with light-hearted humour, these poems offer up a carnival of refreshing perspectives. Mixing memory and desire, We are the Walrus, casts a clever and wry eye on the strange, maddening, and everyday menagerie of life.”

          Adam Wyeth

“With his ear well tuned to the rhythm of the farm and pond, Pete Mullineaux appears to honour Emerson’s urge to “adapt to the pace of nature, her secret is patience”, his close attention to animals brings profit to his poems through the imagined timbre of the non-human heart and mind. He writes about the non-human world as if he knows it and has some pact with it, and as if it knows him, too.”

          Whitney Smith 

          Editor, Journal of Wild Culture, USA

Pete Mullineaux

PETE MULLINEAUX grew up in Bristol, UK – his first published poem, ‘Harvest Festival’, written aged 13, was included in a Macmillan anthology, Poetry & Song, and recorded on ARGO Records with music by Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger. Living in London in the 1970-80s he was part of the original Apples and Snakes poetry collective and played with the left-wing punk band The Resisters, before going solo as Pete Zero. His anti-nuclear song ‘Disposable Tissues’ won the City of London Poetry/Song contest and was made into a single record, with proceeds going to the Greenham Common women’s peace camp. Living in Galway, Ireland, since 1991, he teaches global issues in schools through drama and creative writing. His five poetry collections are: Zen Traffic Lights (Lapwing 2005), A Father’s Day (Salmon 2008), Session (Salmon 2011),  How to Bake a Planet (Salmon 2016) and We are the Walrus (Salmon 2022). His work has been read and discussed on RTE’s Arena and featured on the Poetry Programme podcast Words Lightly Spoken. He was selected for Poetry Ireland Review’s special 100th issue (edited by Paul Muldoon). A number of stageplays have been produced and three dramas for RTE radio. Two non-poetry books were published in 2021: Interdependence Day – Teaching the Sustainable Development Goals through Drama for All Ages (Afri/Action from Ireland) and a debut novel, Jules and Rom – Sci-fi meets Shakespeare (Matador UK).

In Praise of Idleness

A bullfinch is perched 

on the edge

of a flower pot

pecking seeds

from a 


I could watch 

all day –

one, two, three o’clock...

Swimming with Plato

This is absolutely true – for my first swimming lesson

I went with my mother to a big house in a different part

of the city, climbed several flights of dark stairs, me

wondering, where’s the pool? Maybe the posh lady

opening the door to her apartment liked to high dive –

was looking for a young prodigy to teach, like a character

from my sister’s Bunty comic; or might there be a 

descending slide like the one at the public marina?

What the elderly woman (now I could see her in the light)

did have was a table, across which I was asked to lie while

she took my hands, then my feet and showed me the frog

movements of the breaststroke. We didn’t attempt the crawl

and I only went one time (my mother had seen the ad

in the paper, gone on a whim) and, as the man said,

it’s the thought that counts.

Later on I learnt to swim in the sea like everyone 

else; but looking back I realise, despite her limitations, 

the old woman had whetted my appetite, as well as 

opening my mind to how a kitchen table can become 

a pool, a flight of stairs might lead to the high board; 

how so often we find ourselves making do.


Throw it, plant it, exchange it –

a quick peck, or a smacker

lips are essential, tongues optional,

mouth to mouth the general rule, although

cheeks will do –

from a distance you can blow it;

sometimes, during it, you might sigh—

releasing endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine,

serotonin, adrenaline; wet or dry,

always good for saying goodbye,

sealing a promise,

a mark of tenderness on the forehead;

other times it’s just for show – kiss-kiss

or once a year under the mistletoe...

best slow...

a few you’ll never forget;

Rodin sculpted, Klimt painted

but enough of this,

the pucker muscle

is orbicularis oris,

rhymes with bliss...


Poems Copyright © Pete Mullineaux 2022

PRAISE for How to Bake a Planet (Salmon 2016)

How to Bake a Planet combines the sombre with the comedic... (in) the singular voice of this poetry — one part sarcasm, one part irony, two parts morbid bluntness — Mullineaux draws on anxieties about a poisoned planet, strangled relationships, and the ever-present ticking of time in an attempt to uncover the smothered sentiments we all keep locked away.’ 

          Brianne AlphonsoJacket2 (USA) 

‘The journey is not without its moments of doubt and the collection is peppered with a series of ecliptic moments reminiscent of Edward Thomas’s “stop at Adlestrop” railway station, TS Eliot’s “moment in and out of time” or Yeats’s Irish Airman’s “in balance with this life, this death.” All this adds up to an intriguing and enriching collection of poetry, one that is certainly worth several visits.’ 

          Des KennyGalway Advertiser

‘...the poems here are taut and possess a razor sharp wit...reminiscent of John Clare...probing, beautifully written...a gem...’

           Jaki McCarrickPoetry Ireland Review

‘Each and every poem in How to Bake A Planet relates to the present crisis...the agony of being part of the society that is mutilating Nature...’

          Thriveni C Mysore Plumwood Mountain Journal (Australia)

‘Mullineaux’s strength lies in rallying a collective yearning for a future in harmony with nature and extending beyond our own individual bubbles... It curates a space where we can commune. It makes us feel less alone.’ 

          Florrie Crass –

PRAISE for Session (Salmon 2011)

'Session captures the wit, inventiveness, grace and connection of player to player, of musician to the natural landscape, of seasonal rituals to the deepest desires of the heart. This remarkable collection belongs in the library of every musician and poetry lover.' 

          Irish American Music & Dance Association (Minnesota, USA)

'With requisite craft he takes you into a world of observed moments, of habits and rituals, leaving you with a more enriched feeling of the occasion at hand...the power of now in poetic terms...a beautifully written work.' 

          Trad Connect (Ireland) 

‘Session is a beautiful magical book, soaked in waves of musical imagery and sound… written with impeccable craftsmanship, a delight on the ear and begs to be read out loud.’ 

          The Ranting Beast (Ireland)

‘Marvellous…these reflections and resonances are evocative and insightful. Mullineaux crafts genuine and perceptive surprises. More please.’ 

          Orbis Magazine (UK)  

‘Mullineaux uses evocative images, insightful observation, humour, playfulness… He is a scrutiniser of intricacies, a watchful eye. Session, by Pete Mullineaux is a gem.’

          Irish Music Magazine 

‘Absolutely exquisite…the poems could only have been written by someone inside the music.’  

          Celtic Connections Magazine (Denver, USA )

PRAISE for A Father’s Day (Salmon 2008)

‘Imaginative, innovative, intelligent and poetic…reminds me of the three Liverpool poets, Brian Patten and the others…a fine and beautiful book.’ 

Pat McMahon – Head of Galway/Mayo Library Services

‘…gorgeous and resonant…with a stunning final blow.’ 

          Ailbhe DarcyStinging Fly Magazine, Dublin

‘Mullineaux is a profoundly sensitive poet… while some lines are so grimly funny I’m genuinely jealous I didn’t think of them first.’  

          Kevin Higgins – Galway Advertiser

‘…vivid verse that will take the reader on a roller coaster of emotions.’ 

          Midwest Review (Oregon, USA)

‘keen-eyed and lyrical…emotional and tender but also humorous, witty and philosophical, this is a brave collection from a wonderful poetic mind.’ 

          Gerard Hanberry

‘Simple, luminous images…Mullineaux’s voice carries lilts of John Cooper-Clarke. There are poems here to make one smile, frown, think; the comedian often gives way to a serious poet indeed. A fine book then, and beautifully produced.’  

          Fred Johnston – Western Writers Centre

‘These poems sing of deep humanity.’ 

          Geraldine Mills

Other Titles from Pete Mullineaux

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