For July's Poem of the Month, I have chosen five short poems from Peter Pegnall's collection Season of Missed Chances
These poems were inspired by phrases found in the classic work ‘Tender is the Night’ by Scott Fitzgerald. 

EXCLUSIVE: Joseph Woods (Director of Poetry Ireland) has written a blurb for Peter's collection, exclusively for


A Scherzo of Colour

Bougainvillea against a plaster wail,
pink lips parted in desire;
a pool of blood in the doorway.

Lap it all up.

If you prefer black and white,
             a touch of evil –

fly a dark kite
               hieroglyph of agony.

A Carnival of Affection

They all come to the party –
Little Noddy and Wittgenstein
Winston Churchill and Gary Glitter

And isn’t that Audrey Hepburn
arm in arm with
             F. Scott Fitzgerald?
The host went to bed early, alone,

smoked salmon
smeared on the ormolu mirror.

A chord of delight

That’s how his fingers struck the mandolin:
he’d half expected to satisfy
              half the female congregation,

section the other half.

“You’re ‘avin a laugh, boy,
you wouldn’t know a tune
             from your epiglottis…”

Nevertheless, once in a while,
an accord of delight –
she said, quietly, she might

A Hard Boiled Sparkle in His Eyes

Not how she’d imagined breakfast.
They were mute.
            His opened broadsheet
a River Lethe between them.

‘Had you forgotten?’ she didn’t say.

             Served her right.

Cooked to a turn in Veuve Cliquot

Reality is not what it was
             for the Widow Cliquot:
there is rust in the geranium,
              a nervous tic in the Venetian blind.

Best get slewed, trip
               the light fantastic,

crunch the meringue,
             raise our tulip flutes
                            and rejoice.

"Peter Pegnall is a latter day Larkin whose Season of Missed Chances, his fourth book of poems, charts his by now characteristic urban settings, invariably London and on closer inspection the environs of Richmond while allowing for No Edward Hoppers in Hounslow, Two in a Bus Shelter in Twickenham or simply Skint in Harrod’s Food Hall. Throughout, Pegnall’s gently irascible and jaded style is now more elegiac but he remains a poet of the bon mot, conversational in the most literary sense and capable here of a devastating sequence of Farewells, the coyly clever Poems Suggested by Phrases from Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘Tender is the Night’ or a ‘prayer’ that closes; 

This morning, two doves perched on my washing line.    

I kept my silence. There may yet be time."

Joseph Woods, Director of Poetry Ireland.


Copyright Text © Peter Pegnall 2009
Copyright Cover Design © Jeremy Nash 2009

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The author has asserted her/his right under Section 77
of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988
to be identified as the author of this work.