Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tuesday Poem - The Blue Dressing Gown by Ross Donlon

The Blue Dressing Gown

It hung in my boy's wardrobe
an army regulation item
no one could throw out.

And it would be hard, wouldn't it,
to discard the only thing left
in something like the shape of him.

It hung on a wire hanger,
skeleton of his shoulder
cutting across collar bone,

the drape of it swinging side to side
if nudged into a shy dance,
or if asked up by a breeze.

I used to wear it, with no sense
of feeling weird or spooky,
alternating with practical flannel,

yet at night sometimes woke
frightened by its doorway shadow,
a man hanging on the moon's hook.

I never realised I'd outgrown him
walking tall through one summer
while his shoulders rode my back.

The tassels swung like incense
as I walked in his shape
trying to sense the being inside him.

This is Ross Donlon's famous blue dressing gown poem, that won the Arvon International Poetry Competition (Wenlock Festival Award) judged by Carol Ann Duffy. It has just been published in Ross's new book – The Blue Dressing Gown & Other Poems by Profile Poetry.

Ross lives in Castlemaine, where he runs a wonderful reading with poets invited from all over the country, at the Guildford Pub. The open mic takes the form of a slam with poets competing for the Castlemaine Cup – which is always a superbly inappropriate egg cup.

To read the other Tuesday Poems click on the quill icon up on the right.


  1. It's a very poignant poem, and powerful, even though in some ways the phrasing is quite tightly ontroleld and low key.

  2. Lovely, deeply moving, tightly-held grief underlying it along with all else that can't be spoken. Thank you.

  3. yes, a very good poem. saw ross read this at la mama the other week, and it was moving and true and right. the best reading i've seen him do. bukowski's got a poem about his father's jacket hanging in the closet after he dies -- anyone know what it's called? [this poem made me think of it...]