MINUS ONE on countdown sale from March 3rd to 10th, beginning at 99c.

Here are the first three poems. The book is available on amazon in paperback and kindle formats.

MINUS ONE

My magic circle broken

Minus one

The first one

To close his eyes

At first I hardly noticed

You were gone, but now

Your absence grips my throat

Chokes my breath

How much of you is me?

I have your hands

Your hazel eyes

Your quick dismissive shrug

I have your taste

In books and booze

I hear my voice

Confirm your old convictions

How much of you is me

Stretching to close the circle?

THE RED PETTICOAT

I remember the rustle

Of the red, exotic petticoat

The pick of a parcel

From America

Delight crackled in her hair

Exploded in a sudden flush

On her alabaster skin

The lighthouse sweep and beam

Of her glad eyes

Lit us all, haloed the room

Where we stood in a row

To admire

Long left that room, that house

The woman has gathered her years

Carefully, tucked them primly away

Scented and folded neatly

Facing the rest

With a lifted chin

A grin and a new hat

The glow of the red petticoat

About her still.

JEREMIAH

Grey church humped in dusk

We huddle, linked

Wispy rain-curled fringes

Cold fingers

Avoid the avid glances

Of the neighbours

Here is the hearse

The priest in white, hand aloft

Accustomed to the rites

Calls him Gerard – but

His name was Jeremiah

Strange cousins

Twice and thrice removed

Clamour to shake hands

And kiss

Anticipating whiskey

He’d have hated this.

PRIMROSE by Patrick Kavanagh | from Complete Poems

“Upon a bank I sat, a child made seer

Of one small primrose flowering in my mind.

Better than wealth it is, said I, to find

One small page of Truth’s manuscript made clear.

I looked at Christ transfigured without fear –

The light was very beautiful and kind,

And where the Holy Ghost in flame had signed

I read it through the lenses of a tear.

And then my sight grew dim, I could not see

The primrose that had lighted me to Heaven,

And there was but the shadow of a tree

Ghostly among the stars. The years that pass

Like tired soldiers nevermore have given

Moments to see wonders in the grass.”

From the collected poems by Patrick Kavanagh – on God and the Devil

I met God the Father in the street

And the adjectives by which I would describe him are these:

Amusing

Experimental

Irresponsible –

About frivolous things.

He was not a man who would be appointed to a Board

Nor impress a bishop

Or gathering of art lovers.

He was not splendid, fearsome or terrible

And yet not insignificant.

This was my God who made the grass

And the sun,

And stones in streams in April;

This was the God I met in Dublin

As I wandered the unconscious streets.

This was the God who brooded over the harrowed field –

Rooneys – beside the main Carrick road

The day my first verses were printed –

I knew him and was never afraid

Of death or damnation;

And I knew that the fear of God was the beginning of folly.

I’ll post The Devil tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this and find it interesting. Patrick Kavanagh (1905 -67) was, and still is, one of Irelands most loved poets. A native of Co Monaghan in Ulster, he spent most of his adult life in Dublin, where he was recognised and saluted on the streets.

Everything is Going to be All Right – by Derek Mahon

Derek Mahon, Belfast man, died yesterday aged 78. He was considered one of the most innovative Irish poets in the sixties and seventies. This poem has been widely quoted since the arrival of Covid 19:

How should I not be glad to contemplate

the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window

and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?

There will be dying, and there will be dying,

but there is no need to go into that.

The poems flow from the hand unbidden

and the hidden source is the watchful heart.

The sun rises in spite of everything

and the far cities are beautiful and bright.

I lie here in a riot of sunlight

watching the day break and the clouds flying.

Everything is going to be all right.

Today’s Ulster Poet – Séamus Heaney.

This is the last Ulster Poet post and it’s the best of all.

POSTSCRIPT

And some time make the time to drive out west

Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,

In September or October, when the wind

And light are working off each other

So that the ocean on one side is wild

With foam and glitter, and inland among stones

The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit

By the earthed lightening of a flock of swans,

Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,

Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads

Tucked or cresting or busy under water.

Useless to think you’ll park and capture it

More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,

A hurry through which known and strange things pass

As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways

And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

THERE WAS A TIME . . .

In the dim, silent church

A glow of votive lamps

Fluttering blue and gold and red

Whispered prayers in corner shrines

Beneath the outstretched hands

Of painted saints

Beads clicking, slowly told

Sundays burst in glory

Sweet choir lifting voice

The Truth sang in my mouth

I filled my eyes with bright

And lustrous threads

The golden flame of candles

Veiling mysteries at the altar

The heavy scent of flowers

Inhaled security

And a weightless peace

In certain knowledge of hereafter

Our hearts were warm, absolved 

Beloved of our maker

And safe in the house of God.

Fairies: The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats – an excerpt

I have read many reviews of books about, or including, fairies; they put me in mind of Yeat’s poem “The Stolen Child” which he wrote in Co Sligo, in Glencar (original Irish name Glenn an Chairthe – the glen of the standing stone). I was there many years ago; it’s a magic, beautiful place, so green and full of water. Here is an excerpt from the poem:

Where the wave of moonlight glosses

The dim grey sands with light,

Far off by furthest Rosses

We foot it all the night,

Weaving olden dances,

Mingling hands and mingling glances

Till the moon has taken flight;

To and fro we leap

And chase the frothy bubbles,

While the world is full of troubles

And is anxious in its sleep.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world’s more full of weeping than you

can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes

From the hills above Glen-Car,

In pools among the rushes

That scarce could bathes a star,

We seek for slumbering trout

And whispering in their ears

Give them unquiet dreams;

Leaning softly out

From ferns that drop their tears

Over the young streams.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world’s more full of weeping than you

can understand.