Tom Paulin\'s Love\'s Bonfire is as combustible as good conversation but goes beyond conversation – as poetry should. Putting the Pan On is a particularly surprising poem. It takes a singular cast of mind to recognise that an unpalatable supper with friends could make a poem in the first place. Some might find the piece indiscreet but it is not unkind, and I am sure Daithe and his wife, Concepta (if they exist – as I am certain they do) will not be offended. They may even be greatly delighted by this fond, entertaining, not-quite-thank-you letter of a poem. It is a good example of the freedom, wit and sheer Irishness of Paulin\'s writing and it\'s marvellous to see how much is spooned into this particular pan. Daithe may struggle to put the pan on but Paulin has no such difficulty. The shift of ingredients from \"sad pallid cod\" – awful, one can almost taste it – to the seductive aftermath (the chocolate itself, in a sense, is being undressed) is delicious. In this, his ninth collection, Paulin often creates the illusion that the poem is being made up as he goes along. Spontaneity is difficult to pull off in poetry but it is a Paulin forté. The casualness is only possible because of the absolute control of form, each poem a windbreak for his words. And there are moments when, like a highwayman, he will leap out and flag himself down, arrest the poem in mid-flow. You can see this impulse from the first line of the opening poem, A Day with Two Anniversaries: Our aim – no mine – was to slash the badger (that\'s such bad language) but we hit a real one on the road to Drumquin… What is striking is how many poems involve the contemplation of Irish skylines – bridges, a bothy, wheeling swallows who (lovely line) are \"sewing nothing with nothing\". You need to burrow into the Irishnesss and savour the dinnseanchas – not a word I knew before now: the lore of places. You are asked to consider old and new views. He is exceptionally good at scene changes that put you elsewhere. We leave Elm Tree Avenue to gather round an Irish table. In Kissing Ms Khosa the church gives way to a field with barely a breath between. In Daisies/Du Barry\'s the shift is from north Oxford florist to dockside bar. What one notices is the preference always for the honest surface (consider And Be No More Seen about oil cloth). He is repelled by inauthenticity and bogus language. In Something Said the phrases \"let\'s try and unpack this\" and \"level playing field\" contribute to his beating a retreat from the speaker, ear and eye giving the slippery the slip. His translations of Walid Khazendar are a change of climate in every sense. These beautiful, unsettling poems combine decorum with tension – possibly a Middle Eastern mixture. The amazing Belongings, about a ransacked room, has, in its protestation, a melancholy wit: \"and my pillow\'s never been dented this way/ Not by any lovely head…\" It lacks the means to become a love poem. But it is a love poem to Paulin\'s wife, the title poem, that is the most remarkable here. He looks back 40 years and remembers the early fear of her Indian family\'s disapproval. The startling beauty of it is that love begins in ashes – a remembered raking through and then a rekindling – an old flame from the first.