Saturday, May 26, 2012

Coping, Not Coping

You screamed, no one heard;
you wondered if you had screamed at all.

I asked where the lines on your face had come from;
another one appeared.

Now, because your eyes are perpetually electrocuted,
I talk on and on;

always taking the precaution of being somewhere else
when I stop.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Silver River

Jacket, shirt and shoes,
his socks and trousers;
that bundle neat on the bank;
a small crowd watching from the bridge.

-the silver river running-

He was coming from a game of cards, late;
the winnings were in his pocket.
There had been a woman,
they had even visited the priest,

-the silver river running-

but that’s long ago now.
He worked the farm,
a good worker, his neighbours said,
always busy with the tractor.

-the silver river running-

He lived with his mother,
who cooked his meals and managed the money.
Now she was a great farming woman,
everyone agreed

and that’s how the silver river ran.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gorgeous Music

Zakir Hussain's "Making Music" (1986) is one of my favourite albums. With Jan Garbarek,John McLaughlin and Hariprasad Chaurasia; it gets close to heavenly at times.Take a listen.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Poem for the Horticulturist with a Soft Spot for Opera

The flower that swallowed people,
already swollen to an indecent beauty,
swallowed an opera-singer
and thrilled the world incredulous
with legatos, staccatos, crescendos.
Its petals billowing rich red,
dribbled dark burgundy stains
to a star of blinding purple brilliance.
Its stamens, topped in solar ash,
hummed tremolo for television
while the stem was a flow
of swan's neck to the ground.

Day and night the concert enthralled
a world, at the garden wall,
drenched in orgasm.
But a flower's life is short,
its edges betrayed its age;
petals, cracked and folded,

fell like rotten teeth.
That day the opera-singer protruded,
in mid-bar, from the shameless stem
he stopped abruptly,
fixed his collar and walked away
not a little embarrassed.   

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Time to Celebrate

Passing time, whether ticking clocks, autumns or daffodils, has always been a rich ground for poets. The year passes on in a succession of natural displays: snowdrops under beech trees, cherry blossoms blown away in a matter of weeks, furze blazing again in the late spring sunshine.  The relentlessness of it all convinces me more and more that celebration is urgent and our time is now.  

In an Autumn Park

A maple is juggling a million splinters of sun,

its head lost within that globe of solar brilliance.

Sitting on an old wrought-iron bench

with my feet paddling in an pool of fallen leaves,

I stop a moment and listen to the sipping sounds of leaves

arriving dumbfounded onto the litter.

The ticking of years is not a regular beat:

a sudden gust of wind moves another year along.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Group Photograph After The War


Thursday, May 3, 2012

A woman is looking out of a dark house
onto a sun-drenched street.
There is only her old face,
enamel white and expressionless;
and the street just as always used to be 
                                                                        in July.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

I was rather surprised some time back to find an introduction and a poem from my second  collection "Turn Your Head" in a blog titled "Leonard Epstein Photography".

Leonard Epstein is from New York.His blog presents photographs from his trips to different parts of the world including India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Bermuda,USA and Austrailia. The photographs are often accompanied by poems or other published pieces, and so my poem appeared in a blog on the Tuol Sleng Museum posted in Oct 2011.

I'm sure he'll be happy for me to return the favour with a photograph from that posting. With thanks:


Irish poet Michael O’Dea

“1999 I wrote a series of poems called Tuol Sleng Still. They were inspired by the gut-wrenching photographs of the inmates of Tuol Sleng, S-21, a Khmer Rouge death-camp in Phnom Penh. Between 1975 and 1979, 14,000 were tortured and died there. 7 survived. Inmates were photographed with numbered tags, and they were photographed again after their deaths.

Anyone who has experienced such horrors would probably consider my poems from the comfort of 1999 Ireland wryly. I was horrified by my ignorance: during those years I was enjoying a carefree college life. But to see the fear in faces that are little different to those that fill my everyday; I immediately felt immense sadness and felt I should, at least, inform myself. And by researching, writing and publishing the poems I could at least make the experience more real to me and contribute in a minute way to the calls against the wars and barbarism that seem to me to exemplify the pitiful limitations of us humans.

I chose Tuol Sleng because the photographs that inspired me were from there. There is a danger that I will suggest that people from far-off lands with different features to ours are barbaric, however I consider the vacuum-pack cleanliness of American mass-murder by air-strike at least as obscene, if not more so. I consider the war in the Middle East carried out and supported by governments in our name to be abhorrent. That era in the seventies is and isn’t history: unfortunately, for too many around the world it is Tuol Sleng still.”

I looked at him,
Cambodian like myself,
similar in height and age.
He was handing out the tags;
I was bare to the waist.
I held the tag in my hand,
holding it up to be seen;
feeling awkward, conspicuous.
“Pin it onto your chest”
he said and waited.
I pinned it into my skin;
the humiliation delighted him.
Before the camera I stood erect
like I was proud to wear it,
like it was made of gold.