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.

‘On Woman’ by WB Yeats

https://bumpers.fm/_/embed/b40rvpusfitg01453740

 

MAY God be praised for woman
That gives up all her mind,
A man may find in no man
A friendship of her kind
That covers all he has brought
As with her flesh and bone,
Nor quarrels with a thought
Because it is not her own.
Though pedantry denies,
It’s plain the Bible means
That Solomon grew wise
While talking with his queens.
Yet never could, although
They say he counted grass,
Count all the praises due
When Sheba was his lass,
When she the iron wrought, or
When from the smithy fire
It shuddered in the water:
Harshness of their desire
That made them stretch and yawn,
pleasure that comes with sleep,
Shudder that made them one.
What else He give or keep
God grant me — no, not here,
For I am not so bold
To hope a thing so dear
Now I am growing old,
But when, if the tale’s true,
The Pestle of the moon
That pounds up all anew
Brings me to birth again —
To find what once I had
And know what once I have known,
Until I am driven mad,
Sleep driven from my bed.
By tenderness and care.
pity, an aching head,
Gnashing of teeth, despair;
And all because of some one
perverse creature of chance,
And live like Solomon
That Sheba led a dance.

Easter Passover & Resurrection 

https://anchor.fm/embed/a6520d

I rose from the dead 

We’d all love to rise from the dead
and snatch a second chance
from the teeth of history.

Which of you would refuse resurrection
and leave the stones in place
until the winter breaks?

My death was cold
and stank of feces
left by swallows fit to glide away.

I never knew how long my death would last
until I rose again from the jaws of a mystery made
before the stars exploded

and the universe was saved.

 

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.

Song of my Butterfly 

Song of my Butterfly

No one heard the song of the butterfly, not even my mother, my brothers, nor the dog-walker who strode by our garden and allowed his Bernese Mountain Dog to pee all over my butterfly’s buddleia. 

No one noticed the sigh of my Painted Lady as she mated with the neighbour’s Painted Man – not even my wife, nor our local parish priest who discouraged kissing on Sundays.

No one found the egg the butterfly laid on the hollyhock that grew from the seed that fell from the beak of my favourite thrush until the caterpillar consumed her shell and was seduced by one of the red hot pokers. 

No one cried tears for the butterfly – not even a plain Painted Lady that flapped its wings in Cork and caused a Great Wall in China to collapse. 

If only one person knew the song of my butterfly in time to sing a lullaby that echoed from sky to sky, we might have paid more attention to biosciences. We might have been saved from the consequences. 

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.