Sunday, 28 February 2016

Upper Ballyroe, Kilfinnane, 1968.

Upper Ballyroe, Kilfinnane
1968, the Uncle’s farm

(County Limerick, Ireland)

We stand and watch the rain.
The sloping field
strikes loose its waters
rides them down
to pools of mahogany gumbo.

The hayricks are what’s left
when mountains unbuckle their splendours
fall by fall.  Their crowns cave and suck.
Chemistry happens.  The rotten stem
swaddles the firm.

One of us is leant against a tree,
swelling its black scars
with crooked breath, head stuck
in last night’s fuddle.
His free hand wags at his hip,
a cigarette strung on its fingers.

Someone forecasts: brighter than scrubbed beans
come teatime.  Then we’ll get on.
Fecksakes, the cig flares back at him,
it’s torrents now, well into the boozing hour
and down to the heel of tomorrow besides.
We’ll see the summer out forking blancmange,
and where were the bloody tarps?

The tarps are asleep,
interfolded like sofa cats
in the barn we walked past hours ago,
swatting off the sun . . .

. . . which someone else swears he’s glimpsed,
just, way and gone over the field:
a finger of it laid underside
the gapping wounds of cloud.
Ah, he insists, it’ll turn for us now.

But it has business
with cliffs and trawling-roads.
It slithers off (Fecksakes)--another kind of cat,
squeezing up space for itself
under the sag of a dresser,
or with the last of retreat up its tail
as a window unratchets and slams.

From Batmans Hill, South Staffs (London: Flipped Eye, 2013)

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Hmm...this Brexit...

'This…this Brexit.'
'Ah, yes.'
'Is that, sort of, running for the bus with tea and cornflakes down your front?'
'To have later, yes…I should imagine.'
'But there's another lot, isn't there?  Who don't pelt down the street with cereal spraying about them?'
'Oh, yes.  They're completely opposed to rise-and-shine shambles.'
'What do they call themselves?'
'Bray Exactly Where You Are.'
'Tigger says.'

Saturday, 20 February 2016

The span of a June-bug

The span of a June-bug

Every other night,
my dreams are of an old, old lady
who shoots her body clear
of the child-space to which it has shrunk
and, bracing, springs a morning arm
to finger-dust the lintels.

On the nights between, she misses
by the span of a June-bug,
which is the slim width of dismay,
which feels like a cinder
snugged in last year’s boots
at the start of a long walk home

to a yard where the dark has come early
and gold has thrown off its flowers,
where the gate has forgotten
how to yawn upon the lane
and drags the gravel
with the sound of a spent moon
dropping from its night.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

You meet a donkey on the road...

You meet a donkey on the road...

You meet a donkey on the road.
The donkey stops.  There is snow
in the air so you both should get on
but you do not.  You look
into the donkey’s eyes and he looks
into yours.  You reach
to stroke his nose.  He twitches
flicks his ears but a moment later
his head is down and his nose
is pressed to your stomach.
So you both stand.  The snow comes on.
You see the flakes between his ears
perhaps he feels the slowing of your blood.  

Didn’t someone say once that
on the way from morning to his bespoke end
he found himself of a sudden
in the middle of a deep dark wood?
He probably took bearings of a kind
had a word with himself and pushed on.
You and the donkey do not.
Perhaps you or he are a freckle’s width
from knowing why
but you leave that where it is
if it is.  The snow keeps on
the donkey lifts his head
you stretch either hand to still it.
You look into his eyes and he
looks into yours. 
And now there is no road.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Letters Page

'What's that in your pocket?'
'Ah, it's a magazine--'
'Oh, not all that fashion again. How are we meant to be chivvying sartorially clueless Bretons now?'
'No, it's the Times Literary Supplement. Owl lent it to me.'
'And what might that be?'
'Owl says it's a Word Fancier's Guide to the latest Big Boys' and Big Girls' Hums.'
'Ah…fun for all the family.'
'Um, or perhaps none of same, if the letters page is anything to go by.'
'Oh, dear. Hum-factioning, eh?'
'Well, there's one here that Mr Dude, I think, would call a doozy. Typical of the species, Owl says.'
'What is it?'
'Hold on…ah, yes…"While one welcomes, with grace though not a little caution, the new edition of the poems of Thomas Cobley, Peasant-Farrier of Widdicombe, handsomely illustrated by J Stewer, lovingly though not faultlessly annotated by Pieter Gurney the Younger and with a detailed though by no means exhaustive introduction by Peter Davy, Dan'l Whiddon (of the Berkshire Contractions) and Harold Hawk, one must perforce tread tres doucement in the matter, endlessly absorbing but at the same time endlessly vexed, of garland bestowal. Neither Stewer nor Gurney nor Davy nor Whiddon nor Hawk acknowledges the, to one's mind, definitive Variorum Cobley, edited with a scholar's eye and a poet's heart by Thomas Pearce in the dark days when one could not obtain a decanter, a goblet or the merest whiff of Founder's Port in the College of which one was which one was which one and which (for one) remains, to one's mind, the final word, if that word 'word' does not seem too blunt a word for words, a shooting star, a wondrous flash of streaky beacon, in the world (congested, contested, at times from all sense wrested) of Cobley studies. Might one add a personal note here…".'
'Well, go on, Piglet. What's the personal note?'
'It ends there.'
'There? Where's he, she or it gone, then?'
'A and E, I should think.'

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

'Rathkeale, Co. Limerick' (from 'Come To Pass' [Oversteps Books, 2015])

(County Limerick)

This moment happens like a red leaf
blowing out of mist

in it,
a car full of soured, mid-holiday faces
clips a Georgian corner,
folds a mirror like a ricochet
with no shot to breed it
and jolts off, ancient dusts roused again,
chasing its wings

birds that cannot settle
on the bell-waves that soften the town
make for some secret place, perhaps,
where one of the shining men
laid his cowl and bones to an oak,

an old woman, all energy steered
to the fullness of her hands--
the cards, prescriptions--
dies where she stands
from a hole-in-the-wall’s shouty brightness--
gets her corpse somehow away
to an alley’s last overhang

will we point ye to the hairdresser?
the ringleted tykes shinny down their question,
turn into a shriek of heels,
leave the bald man like burning stone

a lunch-hour boy,
earpiece and pecs and belligerence,
kicks the future down the street
in a shirt of gauleiter blue

the coffee-girl, late,
wakes the afternoon with her breasts
from its little sleeps
dispersed among pearl spigots--with her sigh
in which hope is just making to turn
from the last bridge of the parish

next minute, the rain,
smoking where gutters
don’t quite meet the flags--
all the sea-hauling clouds
down and thick together
like tipped-off soldiery