16 Stations of the Cross

 


16 Stations of the Cross

The ground too rough, the shards so sharp,
tyres of wheelchair can’t make it round,
nor legs of those who only strain to push.

I
Thorned and roped, a man
accepts his mortality
condemned to stations

II
Shoulders made for Cross
bones of feet and straining palms,
Salvation’s burden

III
The first fall on stone
eyes open, lips dry, prelude
– this is the real thing

IV
Mother of mothers
I sucked your love for comfort,
come, again, again

V
Cyrene Simon
strong stranger with a mission
another always

VI
Veronica loves,
wets hem for almighty face,
the man feminine

VII
Stumble and tumble
slump on your face example
– will you rise again?

VIII
Jerusalem mourns
the women lead, still men howl
all community

[There are green hats here,
youngsters of Ireland,
the kind Dev thought he knew.
I’m an old warrior
used to seeing contradictions, labyrinths,
in love with generations of confusion
– these are my stations.]

IX
Three times Jesus crashed
head first, splinters in torn back
– will you ever rise?

X
Strip that body bare
show off those ribs of Adam
– tortured is our life? 

XI
Is that iron sharpened?
that nail hammered through his bone ?
– we must make this hurt

XII
Die the dead hero
give up your ego, expire
– only one way through

[The man in the blue shirt
holds out a cup of water.
Mother sips dehydration away,
rest before here Saviour,
the Father reads the last prayers.]

XIII
Pull him down, I say
follow orders, my letter
– there are hearts ripping

XIV
We have a spare tomb
let’s shut him into deep dark

clandestine caverns

XV
Let’s get up early
be there before the birds sing
– always Mary knows

XVI
I see the flesh whole
I sense the soul united
– Resurrection lives 

______________________

(Lourdes, June 2010)

This is pure cliché

This is pure cliché,

dappled wicker,

stone lit, shadows firm,

warmth of evening song,

comings and goings,

Spanish movements through the bar,

Bombay going down,

Schweppes on ice,

already a little pissed

– Martini Basarana Tanqueray

Ballantines Bacardi Beefeater

Zoco Drambuie Calisay

100 Pipers Ron Barcelo

Jack Daniels Cointreau –

even the Cutty Sark is too much

now company’s gone

and “Prohibido Fumar” reigns

supreme behind the counter

– what price a coffee now?

 

 

[Galicia August 2010]

A moment

 

The coffee’s bitter here,

beans dark, roasted hard,

flavour for waking up

– I see Cezanne on the wall,

a fire extinguisher,

a smoke-free zone,

even water can’t soften the taste,

exploration calls,

echo of earlier conversation,

poplars wave, leaves flash,

sunlight shortening shadows

under apple trees.

A bronzed girl hangs her jacket

on the back of a chair.

 

(Galicia 6 August 2010)

I will drink sugar

 

I will drink sugar,
pour stars of glucose
onto a tea spoon,
sprinkle refined grains
on a surface of Galician
Espresso.

I will cherish the remainder
lingering in this sachet,
wet pad of forefinger
– licking softly –
before cleaning the counter.
I like to flick fallen sweet.

I will go back to my hotel room,
leave behind a night sky.
There’s Venus there,
Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn
reflected from sapphire bottle
Gin.

(August 2010)

____________________

Tomaré azúcar,

Echar estrellas de glucosa

A una cucharadita,

Espolvoreando granos refinados

En la superficie del café exprés

Gallego.

 

Gozaré del resto

Quedando en el sobre,

Almohadilla de dedo

-lamiendo suavemente-

Antes de limpiar la mesa

Me gusta chasquear dulce caído.

 

Regresaré a la habitación del hotel

Dejando el cielo de noche

Allí esta Venus allá,

Mercurio, Marte, Júpiter, Saturno

Reflejados en la botella de color zafiro

De Gin.

(Translation by a good friend who isn't a poet 2017)

The Seaweed Lorry

 

The seaweed lorry

How long have I driven a seaweed lorry to Roundstone
past fuchsia and montbretia?
How long has the wife practised acupuncture,
the daughter dried dulse?
You’d wonder as you pitchfork the algae,
watch strips slip off, litter the lane.

They can take their time,
wait their turn to pass,
I have many more journeys in me,
many more days leading hearse and caravan.
They can all take their turn,
why should they pass?

I’ve driven this way too long now to be forced off it,
seen their urgent béasa,
refused to be edged off my bóthar.
There were houses full
– not enough rooms for the children –
before there weren’t children for the rooms.

I’ve seen them all off,
I’ve still gone back for more seaweed.

_________________________

Image by Jonathan Wilkins

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.