Poem no. 20 This

This turning back,
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 ā€“ a second skin ā€“
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 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.

Poem no. 13 Embrace the Chaos

I reach across the table towards the cup and saucer;
prepare to nudge it gently off the edge.
I brace myself for impact (and the sound of a resounding smash)
but nothing happens.
Now I pause within the unaccustomed silence – look around me.
And in this final moment before the great freeze begins, I understand.
Our universe has finally reached its equilibrium.
There is no entropy – no random motion.
My crockery can no longer fall.

Poem no. 12 Bully Boy

When I knew him in the playground, he cried easily.
Pretend games upset him;
his large eyes, luminous on the point of tears,
shone soft and bright.
But when he slipped, later,
out of uniform and nameless,
into the brutish, sweat-stained concrete cells
and played his own
thick brutal games with prisoners there,
it was the men who wept.

Poem no. 11 Walking to the Sea

Stand here beside me – the wild Atlantic gusting in your face –
the people and the land behind.
Something happens as you stand here on the shore;
a distancing not related to either place or time.
You step close to the edge of things
and all else falls away.

Poem no. 10 The Golden Room

As the winter days ahead begin to darken and draw down
I will slip quietly to work inside this golden room.
My joy is twofold: in catching the memory here and in finding the moment of light.
Early in the morning, this tiny space is shadowed; nothing more.
But a west-facing window draws the evening sun towards it like a song.
In moments, then, caught on the cusp of evening light,
the walls of this tiny space are set aglow –
filling my heart with surprise and joy.

It was a small and plain bedroom;
my mother brought us here, three tiny girls, new-born,
fresh from the hospital three years in a row,
to lie with her in the peaceful early nights
as she drew close the children she never thought she’d have.
I feel her sometimes, with me, here,
as I walk into the golden rush of evening;
feeling the light drawn inexorably into this silent golden room.
I imagine her lying here, bathed in sunlight, holding me close,
watching my chest rise and fall;
my tiny fingers held softly close in hers.

Poem no. 9 Autumn silver

As the shy poet eases letters, one by one, onto the waiting page
(as one would carefully compose a secret valentine)
so October takes the time to etch her early frosts –
patiently working innumerable silver strands
among the delicate spider webs of autumn.