Buried duck

 

Buried Duck

It was Seamus to put me up to it.
He was like that, always egging me on,
slipping out of it when we were found out.

It took two of us to corner the bird,
hold the head, steady the pumping feet,
ducks have stronger necks than five year olds expect.

We had the quiet for it,
mother gone to town.

If we were quick, we could bury it.
There was sand in the shed, wet sand
against the wall, a dark corner,
a resting place for feathers.

Seamus dug the hole, scooped back a grave
with bony fingers.
He was a doctor even then.

Our duck might have been going back to nest
as we piled sand, heavier and heavier.
We were both in it.

He was the one who covered the head, pushed the neck under.
Honest, he was the last one to see the wild eye disappear
under the weight of our mound.

He was the last one to touch the duck alive.

I saw the buried bird lose its head,
piled deadening sand on top.
I wanted to make sure…
never thought she’d miss her duck,
there were other things to do.

But Seamus had to let it out, had to be found out, had to point the finger,
young innocent, led astray.
He loved being the baby.

When mother shoved her arm into the grave, she wasn’t long there,
her elbow never got wet.

She pulled her duck out,
alive.

10 years ago …

[I don’t want to give you the impression I’m depressed now – so I better let you know I wrote this 10 years ago.]

 

Ink

There is a black blob of ink on my paper
and no amount of dipping the pen
will tidy the stain.

There was an inkwell sunk into my desk
and I used to gather a load of liquid
to decorate the page.

As the tool for writing became a fountain
and I learned to collect my ammunition
leaks came and pus dribbled.

This pool is drawning me down into its depth
and I’m too heavy to float in filth.
I need a good clean.

A note to my mother – August 2006

Dear Mum

If I simply say ‘you’re the best mum I’ve ever had‘,
you’ll know I’m in touch with previous lives.

But you’ll deserve it – because you brought us up
to think and duel with words, and look beyond

to the next time when I shouldn’t be late, or break
House Rules, lest you and I would give and take

for hours and hours – so I would learn and yearn
to be my own person – as is your way.

Poetry: “We played hide-and-seek on holidays”

I would close my eyes at evening,
the breeze would slip away
to another appointment.

I would count the lights go down,
cover my head from stars,
let the moon keep watch.

I would draw back shutters at dawn,
go search for the wind
outside

A mosaic of pale stone
ferociously pushing heat into my face,
a frog fixed in the pond with fierce eyeballs.

I would look behind corners of brilliant white
across luscious grass blades, erect, unmoving,
plumbago petals still under cork oaks,

palms hanging arced in the oven.
I would look and look,
until both eyelids would give in,

and call out to the wind:
You have won, Unfound One
You are master of this game.

A man I looked at twice

A man I looked at twice

I saw a man that reminded me of another,
grey bristles conjured up a face
I’d forgotten.

The forgotten put me in mind of the father
I’d lost, and that deathbed
brought back to life

the mother of my best friend
as she lay wasting
and the nurse checked the cathedra

made in a country where I’d visited
the Pied Piper’s adopted home
and fell asleep

in a single bed over which a portrait
of Saint Aloysius hung, next to the holy water font
replenished by an unknown agency.

 

___________________

Note:

I self-published the first version of this poem on my blog in January 2006 

 

I used to be nice


I used to be nice

Years ago
I composed this wish
Never noticed the clichés

I meant no vice:

may you go from strength to strength
may you soar over every sapping strain
may you float on the cushion of your dreams
until your sun sleeps and acorns reach maturity.

_________________

Note:

On 24th December 2005 – I self-published that bold stanza on my blog. Spot the phrase that doesn’t feel like a cliché to you …

To write a poem now

 

cafesmall

To write a poem now

To write a poem now
forgotten how,
fingers all too stale,
grown pale.
Unused soul went to sleep,
troubled deep.

Christ rose from the dead,
threw off sheets drenched in blood,
woke up, pushed the stone back
so light and birdsong dawned,
his dream made flesh,
again.

Fear revisited,
traces linger instead,
as if painted over.
Whitewashed over…

Jesus wrote his poem
on the road to Emmaus,
recovered from Gethsemane.
The words even ascended into Heaven
and were repeated.

To write a poem now…
the least I could do.

__________________________

Note:

I wrote this in 2011 – shortly after I recovered from a long bout of depression. I began it in Ely near Cambridge UK, & finished the first draft in my local much-loved haunt Cafe Beva, Glanmire, Co Cork.