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Grenade Genie

by on 5 May 2020

Relentless, Ruthless, Riveting

Grenade Genie

by Thomas McColl

Review by Heather Moulson

The second collection from innovative poet, Thomas McColl, Grenade Genie takes us on a surreal journey into four profound sections, with an abundance of intelligent and humorous observations from his twenty-five poems. There are also deep black connotations, and he is ruthless with his words: truly relentless but far from unwelcome, and very compulsive.  He takes us straight through to the first section headed Cursed.

This intriguing roadway gives us the surreal, yet sympathetic, branch terrorism of No Longer Quite So Sure. A bus ride will never be the same. Followed by The Evil Eye, a father’s chilling advice to his son about Social Media, the desperate and gripping Carry My Eyes, and the contemporary horror of The Bunker highlights the real risks and vulnerability of a tower block.


The Greatest Poem, with references and paranoid comparisons to TS Eliot, is laugh out loud material. Followed by the disturbing Grenade Genie, the title poem.

We leave that section and take a right into the next road which is Coerced. The self-doubting, bordering on paranoid Security Pass. Joined by Jackpot and Invisible Twin, full of innovative strong notions, Nightclubbing in Brum 1988 tells us a beautifully spaced and human story.

The situation remains human as we leave that section with Jan, Jen or Jean. Sharing the writer’s sheer discomfort, making us anxious to move on quickly!

We drive into the strong heading of Combative, and are welcomed by the wonderful, intelligent and witty Shopping with Perseus. An original take on the fashion victim involving the Greek Myth hero.

Common observations, things we don’t mean to ignore, are lit up by Socialist Workers on Oxford Street. Quite certain I will never take that endless street for granted again.
Then we are embraced with one of the highlights of the collection Statement by the Pedestrian Liberation Organisation. Wonderful wit, terror and vivid observations.
The Phoney War is tender, frightening and ends heart-wrenchingly. The image of the sobbing grandmother at the stove will stay with us.


Our journey takes us on to the last section, Corrupted, no less enticing than the other three chapters. Just One Comma Away is clever with meaning and punctuation, and Said Contents is true and sinister. Hooked is very chilling, but the last thing it leaves us is cold.
The Surgery I Go to Has a Two Headed Doctor is simply a great work of black humour. It is an enjoyable read, as it is with the First Kiss, despite its discomfort. However, Thomas McColl never promised us a smooth ride.

The climax of Literal Library is extraordinarily surreal, and profound. And like all of this collection, acute.

These poems travel flawlessly from the witty to the terrifying. Well worth the bus fare!
Can I go round again please?

Heather Moulson
May 2020

Grenade Genie
by Thomas McColl
Fly on the Wall Press, £8.99, 80 pp
ISBN 978-1-913211-13-4

Photography by BarnImages (© CC 2.0, Underground Bunker) and Christa Neu

From → Poems

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