Poem no.24 Triplicate

Very little (if any) poetic merit in this, my final poem for the 2017 Poetry Marathon. But an awful lot of love.

When I look at the old farm around me
Three things I never fail to see:
I accept how it is, I remember how it was,
and I still dream of how it will be.

This is where I’ll end my days.
This is where I made my start.
This is where I have found my peace.
This is where I’ll rest my heart.

Poem no. 23 Six Weeks

Six weeks, they tell me,
is just long enough to build a habit;
I listen and I act impressed.
The inference here, of course,
is that I will soon forget the old
while at the same time I create the new.

But what if these six weeks I am gifted now as a beneficence
remain instead filled with hungry glances to
your corner, to my seat, to your grotty rug
as I wait to see you there? Or packed with
awkward pauses at an open door
held ajar a single beat – a moment longer – than it ought to be
allowing you to walk through before I do?
Or the unweighted silence of my empty lap that does not
have you curled, determined, purring, ammonite-like upon my knee?

Because I loved you, I will still look for you;
and miss you in the places where you used to be.
Six weeks may build a habit, yes;
but will not teach me to forget you and what you meant to me.

Poem no. 22 Baptism

I have found myself to be invisible.
These muscles, weakened as they are,
already drenched with the sensation of flowing water,
have left me hesitant. Bereft.
So I renounce the world.
Abjure the tiny, gracious interactions
that would tether me closer to the everyday.
It is an easy thing to slip into a flowing river.
I will not call out.

Poem no. 21 I carry my darkness to the lightest day

And that this place may thoroughly be thought
True paradise, I have the serpent bought.

John Donne

I carry darkness with me to the brightest day, when,
falling from my careful grasp,
it tumbles – careful and complete –
into the moments of the earliest hour.
This small dark fragment is not something that I know I hold;
it curls between my fingers – this bead of almost amber –
bearing a tiny grain of sorrow within its warmed shell.

I know that, as I rest, it will seek again my sleep-numbed fingers
and nestle there. They will close upon it easy as upon a thought
so that I – unknowing – stretching into the day to greet the morning,
I will hold it once again
and I will let it fall.

Poem no. 20 This

This turning back,
unfolding,
into yourself; this
opening the papyrus
uncurling the scroll
marked thick and clear
with the hieroglyphs of you.
This slow easing open
like a blossom
under a cool spring moon;
slipping gently, like liquid birdsong,
along branches thick and rich with green.
This understanding; this
coming to know.

Poem no. 19 Lost. In Space.

I hadn’t noticed it before
but now I do; this space between us
may be tiny – but it’s grown and it’s definitely there.
I reached out for your hand some days ago – do you remember? –
and found (to my surprise) my fingers floundering alone;
no touch of you to anchor me
or draw me in. I panicked – reached again for you –
and there you were; a stalwart presence standing with me –
this other thought a tiny niggle – easily forgotten –
until it’s done again.

Poem no. 18 Evening Fog

October is the month the mists draw in.
These calm and freshly silent mornings settle summer
and draw reluctant autumn to our door.
The evening fog falls low on crop-shorn fields
as rolls of rich, mysterious white seep through the emptying hedges
and fall in ragged scraps of soft, pale mist
that scatter loosely at our feet like something worn.
The animals will walk within this now – a second skin –
shielding themselves from hunter and from prey
while we, preparing for the still, small death of winter’s blast
mourn what is concealed – soon to be lost.

Poem 17: Lost

This hesitation on the brink of spoken words
this pausing at a sentence’s edge
is doing me no good. I fall
into this tumbling, loose-linked thought,
chase words caught in shadows. Grasp
at darkness. Lose meaning.
Leave empty-handed and bereft.

Poem no 16: Philip Marlowe

To most folks, I’m quite some combination;
Mallory or Marlowe – take your pick.
I worked for the DA once but then he chose to let me go.
Now I’m a full-time private dick.
Men have a tendency to look at me up and down and sigh;
Women just stare – then walk away.
I’m sometimes available for poetic dialogues
But chess? No thanks. In my book that’s a solitary play.
I take my coffee with cream in the mornings.
It’s black as tar every other time.
If you’re partial to some whisky or some brandy
Something tells me we’ll get along just fine.
I often take the measure of loneliness
on empty city streets or long dark nights;
At other times I’m chasing hoodlums
Or muscling in on petty bar-room fights.
I’m not quite sure what age I am
Anything from 38 to 42.
But if you’re looking for a tough guy with a heart of gold
Then I might be the right one for you…

Poem no. 15 Last moments: the children of Lir

Aodh, Fionnuala, Fiachra and Conn, the children of the king, are turned into swans by their evil stepmother Aoife and are doomed to live as such for 900 years. They have not lost their children’s voices, however, and are able to sing beautiful songs. They follow pealing bells (a sign that this spell may be coming to an end) to the house of a holy man called Caomhog who cares for them for the last few years of their fate. Captured by the King of Connacht, they’re rescued by a tolling bell and mist from the lake and return to the childish forms they’d had some 900 years before. Unnerved by this sudden change, the King of Connacht flees and the children begin to age rapidly. Caomhog christens the children quickly before their human bodies pass away so that their legend and their names will live on forever.

Last moments: the children of Lir

For just a moment, their childish voices filled the darkening space
before the years unravelled and the centuries took their toll;
in those last seconds, those who heard them knew
their timeless hearts had opened to each other,
for their voices echoed bright and strong and clear
and they knew each other once again.
Then, as sunshine passes, leaving only the briefest memory of light,
their voices faltered, faded to the shadows and were gone.

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