Here are the first three poems. The book is available on amazon in paperback and kindle formats.
My magic circle broken
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
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
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.
Grey church humped in dusk
We huddle, linked
Wispy rain-curled fringes
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
Twice and thrice removed
Clamour to shake hands
He’d have hated this.
I met God the Father in the street
And the adjectives by which I would describe him are these:
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.
I was at a bus stop in Dawson Street in Dublin when Brendan Kennelly walked past me:
Hello, the poet!
I called; he turned and smiled and
blew the sweetest kiss.
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.
Four Aprils old
His heart knows
Proud and brave
He stands up straight
My girl intent
Upon his lunchbox
Balancing . . .
Her eyelids not quite dry
I look at her
She looks at him
He waves at me
We spin in a ring of love
And recognise the day
CLABBER: THE POET AT THREE
“That’s clabber! Clutching clabber
sucks caddies down,” said my father harshly
while I was stomping happily
in the ditch on the side of the road.
“Climb out of that clabber pit
before you catch your death of it!”
But I went on splattering and splashing,
and scattering whoops of joy:
“Clabber! Clabber! I belong to it,”
although the word meant nothing to me
until I heard a squelch in my wellies
and felt through every fibre of my duds
the cold tremors of awakening knowledge.
O elected clabber, you chilled me to the bone.
(Clábar is the Irish word for mud.)
I’m in a Yeats mood today and this is one of my favourites. So romantic, so beautiful and all for nothing; Maud Gonne didn’t love him back.
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
A rattle of keys at the back door
We waited – wary
His face shut tight against us
Like a fist
Toed-in, he crouched over furtive whiskeys
Over chin and cigarette
And we ghosted from the room
With nervous grins
But once he showed me Dickens
And Maurice Walsh
And he was The Small Dark Man
Alone in a house of women
Cut off by his country voice
From the town
From an old melodeon
Sometimes – surprised
His face would lift with love
And fall again
Now I surprise myself
Toed-in, crouched over flagrant whiskeys
Fingers curled over chin and cigarette
And I have to leave the room.