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.

Poets don’t write in a vacuum 

Poets don’t live in a vacuum.

Poetry is not written in a vacuum.

There is always a context, a social context, and always a biography.

I’ve been thinking about this in the context of this blog. Here I publish some of my poetry.

I started sharing some poems here in 2006.

Then the poems were put in a context.  They were displayed in a context because, at the same time, I wrote about my experience of coming back to Ireland from the UK.  I wrote blog-posts about what it was like to have an infant daughter.  I expressed my take on several political issues.

The poems were never displayed in a vacuum.

It’s bothered me now.  Since I relaunched “From Bath to Cork with baby Grace”  [in its second form] the poems have been published without any context.

There’s no writing here about big social issues. I don’t write about my family, nor about housework, golf, podcasting, social media, nor my paid work.

You meet the poems as you would meet them in a poetry book.

And I don’t think this good enough.

I think readers are very interested in the context of a poem – as reflected in the other things the poet is doing in her or his life – how the poet sees things, how the poet reports on what is noticed.

I think readers of poetry – like everybody else-  are more & more curious about what goes on behind the scenes – in the behaviour, mind, emotions and imaginations of writers.

Also I may be enriched by writing about the “world”. I use that world to symbolise the Universe – as I’m capable or motivated to communicate about it.  Even communicate with myself about it.

So I’ve made a decision.   [I’m going to sleep on it.]

I’m going to add prose on this blog.

I’m going to write freely on any topic under the sun that interests me on the particular day I sit down to write.  They may be disconnected sentences. Pieces may be highly structured.  There might be a short story – even a vignette. Probably not a novella.

I may rant.

But above all, it will be me. It’ll be my take on something that’s much bigger than me.

[Reader’s can skip all that prose, or quasi- poetic stuff, if they’re not interested.]

The poems will be obvious. It’ll mean there’ll be more stuff here than before.

It’ll mean I can also put up photographs with very little commentary.  Many people are visual – rather than text lovers. The visual imagination  – or the imaginations of visual people –  is every bit as valuable as the imaginations of those who approach the world with preference for sound or text.

There’s a way in which it’ll do me good to write prose. There’s a possibility it’ll help me feel some issues I write about are vital enough to be encapsulated & addressed in poetry.

I’m going to sleep on this now.

For me, this is a very big issue.  Perhaps I’m I’m going to break & remake the character of this blog.

But it feels like the right thing to do.

However, you never know what a good sleep can do to a right thing.

You just came to me

You just came to  me

To Mike Hegarty in his haven
 (with acknowledgement to Seamus Heaney)

Pig-sty to cattle track, anemones to fountain-pen,
you sat in yellowed armchair, among psychiatric alumni,
released into a fighting street-scape,
where burnt-out cars took place of bicycles.
Your warrior-self listened to every voice
with the greeting of a saint
who wrote with a sun-lit plume.

Prince of the messengers,
carrier of connections,
pointing companions around wild flowers,
through the thicket of everyday life,
out into a clearing, ever shadowed,
ever dappled,
your painterly hand ever active,

you spoke of trees in a family field,
the feed from bonamhs that licked your fingertips,
the rub of the beast that reminded you of animated conversations,
the rough warm blanket into which you were born.
You walked every inch of the lane that led from farm-house,
past copulating ragwort, to a table strewn with words
drawn together for the sake of safe passage.

In that armchair, you smiled through dark-rimmed spectacles,
turned a tongue around considered thoughts
that vied for voice.
In a flash, you held back
eager sperm-like phrases
in favour of a diamond-eyed glint,
before you spoke the timbre of imagined rest.

I wondered who you were in that evening circle –
just as I wonder now.
You just came to me –
as if I were high in a mountain stream, surrounded by parakeets,
and the echo of flowers talking to the wind –
as if you put a hand in the pocket of your overcoat,
and produced a map for me to read.

_________________________

Written in memory and honour 
of my friend Mike Hegarty.  
Inspired by "To Mick Joyce in Heaven" 
by Seamus Heaney 
- to be found in "District and Circle" 
- first read on Friday 18 May 2007 in Adare.

The city of London 

 

The City of London 

Cocktail-shaker for the World
Bridge-builder, fortune-maker
City of greetings, grime and grit
City of tongues
City of preachers, teachers and elephants
City of wars
City of screams and exhibitionists
City of Empire
City of fires, plague and drawing rooms
City of parks, love-makers, trouble-makers, heart-breakers, imperial, ethereal, thirst-slakers, pace-makers, peace-wakers
City of dogs, cats, rats, scavengers and paintbrushes
City of players, symphonic stayers, hyperbolic cares
City of ruins
City of wounds, marches and prayers
City of bubbles, stock-takers
City of pain, disdain, refrain
City of shoes, falafel, matzoh ball soup, chopped liver, peppercorns, cardamom, chillies and curls
City of deaths, debts, resurrections, assumptions
City of refugees
City of the poor
City of the sword
City of slaves, waves, graves, sails
Race-gobblers
City of the clock
City of time and charts
City of natural history, kings, queens, nobility, futility
City of the blitz and bliss and bits
City of the Underground and flight
City of hiding places, stones, Sherlock Holmes
City of reinventions
City of anonymous burdens
Melody-makers, sacrifices
City of the heat and the Crystal Palace
Harbinger of malice
Brain of the Serpentine
City of masons, Livingstone, Gladstone, earthworms, sculptures, sepulchres, sceptics
City of songs and eavesdroppers, towers, bowers, superpowers and sour grapes
City of the chrysalis
Bridge-builder, storyteller, seducer of words, fountain pens, notebooks, fish and chips
City of truth, city of factions, city of the Heath, city of smog, city of the Frost Fair
River banker, clangours, Doppelgangers,
City of joy
City of birth, mirth, thirst,
the witty first city
pitiful playground
foundation of the nation
creation and gestation
pregnant
City of the parties
City of the Open Mind
Martinis
Broad cocktail-shaker for the World.

Reunited

I left the house of my reincarnation
before the swallows returned
the year they cancelled the Grand National.

I walked out the door
before dawn disappeared, drove through a dream
as if in a dismal draft of corked Dolcetto.

I pitched my leaky tent in Wiltshire
’til forced out by a wife’s thirst
for regeneration.

Winter hardened the road I travelled
as I wished to wallow like a pig
in the hot mud Bladud found.

I sailed back to the Province of my birth
in a ferry beset by bleeding ballast,
into the storm of a tiger’s saliva

whipped by Irish bankers, Roman bishops,
windy politicians and uncivil servants.
The rant of ravaged youths, refugees from famine,
coursed through my bloodstream, out my throat
and stained my pen.

I wrote resurrection out of my will.

until I flew to the city of surprised eyes,
composer’s minds,
mouthful feasts

until I sat opposite my child in Southark
speaking of the Golan, green with cotton,
forgetting Masada and the Dead Sea

and lived to swim again
among dreadlocks, hijabs, sidecurls, pale people
and more

until at last I greet myself
arriving at my own house
in my own skin

and we smile again
reunited over broken bread
and the words of one imagination.

Beware 47 year old men

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Beware 47 year old men

They drop like squashed flies
slowly recover into another guise
barely half the size

frail on their feet
after years of fierce pursuit, no heat,
cold comfort from their beat.

Beware 47 year old men

They’ve seen it all before
second and third hand, expecting to soar
past open doors

firm in their pride
locked into a harsh and bitter guide
anger waiting to ride.

Beware 47 year old men

who’ve worked hard
for the reward of a faceless guard
set against anything marred.

Those men fight with flawed spirits
bolstered up on rivets
held together for lovers’ visits.

Beware 47 year old men
I should know, should know again
and again how we topple then.

47 year old men, stand up
slow down and humbly sup,
gather your treasures before they leave the cup.

November 1997