20 April 2018

THE MISFITS

If and when I did look up, the sky over the Moy was the very same gray-blue
as the slow lift
of steam-smoke over the seam
of manure on a mid-winter morning. I noticed the splash of red lead
on my left boot as again and again I would bend
my knee and bury my head in the rich
black earth the way an ostrich
was rumored to bury its head. My hands were blue
with cold. Again and again I would bend
to my left and lift
by one handle a creel of potatoes - King Edwards, gray as lead -
mined from what would surely seem
to any nine- or ten-year-old an inexhaustible seam.
My father wore a bag-apron that read, in capital letters, 'RICH'.
My own capital idea, meanwhile, had sunk like a lead
balloon. 'Blow all you like,' my father turned on me. 'Talk till you're blue
in the face. I won't let you take a lift
from the Monk. Blow all you like. I won't bend.'
The Monk had spent twenty-odd years as a priest in South Bend,
his face priest-smooth except for a deep seam
in his left cheek. Fred Grew said something strange about how he liked to 'lift
his shirt-tail'. Jack Grimley chipped in with how he was 'ostrich-
sized' because he once lent Joe Corr a book called Little Boy Blue.
When Fred Grew remarked on his having 'no lead
in his pencil', I heard myself say, cool as cool, 'I think you've all been misled.'
At which the RICHARDSON'S TWO-SWARD suddenly began to unbend
in that distinctive pale blue
lettering as the seam
of his bag-apron unstitched itself and my father turned on me again: 'That's rich,
all right. If you think, after that, I'd let the Monk give you a lift
into the moy to see Montgomery bloody Clift
you've another think coming. I'll give him two barrels full of twelve-gauge lead
if he comes anywhere near you. Bloody popinjay. Peacock. Ostrich.'
All I could think of was how the Monk was now no more likely to show me how to bend
that note on the guitar - 'like opening a seam
straight into your heart'- when he played Bessie Smith's 'Cold in Hand Blues'
than an ostrich to bend
its lead-plumed wings and, with its two-toed foot, rip out the horizon-seam
and lift off, somehow, into the blue.

- Paul Muldoon

18 April 2018

From: THE GREAT HUNGER





















Primroses and the unearthly start of ferns
Among the blackthorn shadows in the ditch,
A dead sparrow and an old waistcoat.  Maguire learns
As the horses turn slowly round the which is which
Of love and fear and things half born to mind.
He stands between the plough-handles and he sees
At the end of a long furrow his name signed
Among the poets, prostitute's.  With all miseries
He is one.  Here with the unfortunate
Who for half-moments of paradise
Pay out good days and wait and wait
For sunlight-woven cloaks. O to be wise
As Respectability that knows the price of all things
And marks God's truth in pounds and pence and farthings.

April, and no one able to calculate
How far is it to harvest.  They put down
The seeds blindly with sensuous groping fingers,
And sensual sleep dreams subtly underground.
To-morrow is Wednesday - who cares?
'Remember Eileen Farrelly?  I was thinking
A man might do a damned sight worse . . .' That voice is blown
Through a hole in a garden wall -
And who was Eileen now cannot be known.

The cattle are out on grass,
The corn is coming up evenly.
The farm folk are hurrying to catch Mass:
Christ will meet them at the end of the world, the slow and speedier.
But the fields say:  only Time can bless.


Maguire knelt beside a pillar where he could spit
Without being seen.  He turned an old prayer round:
'Jesus, Mary and Joseph pray for us
Now and at the Hour.' Heaven dazzled death.
'Wonder should I cross-plough that turnip-ground.'
The tension broke.  The congregation lifted its head
As one man and coughed in unison.
Five hundred hearts were hungry for life -
Who lives in Christ shall never die the death.
And the candle-lit Altar and the flowers
And the pregnant Tabernacle lifted a moment to Prophecy
Out of the clayey hours.
Maguire sprinkled his face with holy water
As the congregation stood up for the Last Gospel.
He rubbed the dust off his knees with his palm, and then

Coughed the prayer phlegm up from his throat and sighed: Amen.

- Patrick Kavanagh

12 April 2018

DEAD OF NIGHT

Arc lamps so bright tonight the thrushes sing
as though at daybreak or the start of spring
thinking it’s sunrise, and in fun or fright
pursue their thing at dead of night
in light of or in spite of it  -

a pop group piping in the branches, one
clear blackbird noticeable above the din,
not like McCartney’s learning how to fly
with broken wing and sunken eye,
but loud in its anxiety.

He’d rather be presaging lousy weather  -
a downpour or a storm, one or the other;
but the blaze gets him going, the gold beak
wide open with a frightened shriek
in a far corner of the park.

Not for the lying light and not for us
he sings, distinctive in the midnight chorus,
but for the living shadows whited out,
his fierce song an indignant shout
in the bright piercing dead of light.

- Derek Mahon

10 April 2018

AN UNBORN CHILD

I have already come to the verge of 
Departure. A month or so and
I shall be vacating this familiar room.
Its fabric fits me almost like a glove
While leaving latitude for a free hand.
I begin to put on the manners of the world,
Sensing the splitting light above
My head, where in the silence I lie curled.

- Derek Mahon

08 April 2018

FRAIL STRENGTH

As bits of lichen or of weed, 

By drawing moisture and the dew, 

Will slowly dig their fingers in 
And slowly split a rock in two, 

My songs at length will drink up strength, 
And like frail fingers of the fern 

Upon the world's hard rock, will crack 
The boulder of its unconcern. 

- Lours Ginsberg 

07 April 2018

FIRST LIGHT
















Only for wanting to see the world made new
In every weather, growing its colors again
Out of the brown, grey, black, the muted flowers
In Lennahan’s garden beginning to burn orange
And lavender and blue, the steady sequencing
Of green and yellow and red, green arrow,
Green yellow red again above the road,
With ritual precision and gravity
Asserting The City in its formal law
More powerful and pure for emptiness
Than in the later traffic of the day.
I walk out of darkness and into first light,
Patrol and precinct of the speechless ghosts:
An early worker, a late-returning drunk,
Four lonesome joggers fleeing Death,
The Harvester delivering The Globe.

- Howard Nemerov

06 April 2018

ASTROLOGY

With half the glittering heavens on his back,
He made a cheerful compromise with earth,
Holding no grudge against the zodiac
For having blazoned Virgo at his birth.
Out of a sky no longer comet-crossed
Or clogged with stars, he said, would come a sign;
And while he waited Life might well be lost,
Though all the kindlier planets were in trine.

Choosing between the jewel and the toad,
He somehow paltered, and we found a nook
In Time and Space for his enforced abode,
Growing accustomed to his absent look
His anxiously apocalyptic air
Of seeming to be neither here nor there.

- Leslie Nelson Jennings