Friday, June 28, 2013

Billy Collins Makes You Want to Write a Poem

This TED talk by Billy Collins is essential viewing for poets who are drying up, school-goers who need to be convinced that poetry means anything and anyone who has ever said they don't like poetry. A very entertaining 15 mins.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jesus The Aviator

Jesus the fighter pilot
has served in Iraq and Afghanistan:
6,000 flight hours; 1,800 combat hours. 

Described as cool-headed, aggressive;
when asked for his opinion, he says
he backs America all the way. 

The much decorated F-18 pilot claims
he’s come a long way, his teachings are smarter;
“follow the dollar gospel” he says,
  “In God We Trust”.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Visual Jolt

Sometimes an unexpected glimpse trips a mental switch that triggers  understanding. It maybe the shock that jolts clarity, or maybe the novel view of something familiar.

Seeing, through
this patterned pane,
your face: 

whole but distorted
like our love.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Úna Bhán

One of the great Irish love songs love songs was written by Tomás Láidir Mac Coisdealbha (fl.1660s) from Moylurg, Boyle. It will feature in the forthcoming Roscommon anthology.

Tomás was in love with Úna Ní Dhiarmada, but her father considered him less than suitable and forbade her having any contact with him. She, grief-stricken, became very sick and eventually her father relented and permitted Tomás to visit her. On leaving, he vowed that if a messenger sent by Mac Diarmada did not reach him before he crossed the river, he would never return nor speak to her again.

He rode slowly and delayed at the river, even in the middle of the river till eventually, goaded by his servant, he crossed. The messenger arrived but too late. He killed his servant with a single blow.

Úna died heart-broken and was buried on Trinity island on Lough Key. On his death, his request to be buried beside her was granted; it is said that a tree above his grave inter-twined with a tree above hers.

WB Yeats, on visiting the island, searched for the inter-twined trees but failed to find them.   

It not generally known but I, myself, have endured as sad an experience in my own past - it is well known that you must not look back as a lover is leaving. On that dreadful day, I said goodbye to my love and very purposefully turned from her and walked away. However, I had just gone a short distance when it began to rain so I went to open my umbrella. A sudden gust of wind caught the opening umbrella and wheeled me round so that I found myself looking directly at her. To my horror, the clothes she was wearing  now hung on a block of stone that had her likeness. It was standing exactly where I had left her; the index finger of her right hand frozen in the act of removing a tear.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The eyes have it


These images by Lucas Cranach the Elder are very arresting. Despite being 600 years old there’s something very fresh and immediate about them. The eyes are compelling, the depth of emotion they convey; it looks as though they are seeing all the world’s sorrow to the end of time. The paintings give me an urge to write, and that is one of the reasons I am always interested in the work of painters and photographers.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Trees like..........................

Elaine Leigh's painting brought another painting to mind, and so this poem.

What The Artist Sees: 
these trees like the ladies of Avignon,
shamelessly flaunting  themselves,
streaming earth to heaven,
arms thrown upward, presenting  so fiercely. 

In their assemblage: formidable, fearsome,
the usual meaning is altered,
(a shared purpose outside today’s understanding),
their collective nakedness guarding some primeval dogma.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Those Marches

When  they play those marches
and the drums tip away, 

I think of Brendan
alone in his sitting room,
flicking channels,
news to news;
dinners collecting on the table. 

When they play those marches
and the drums tip away, 

I think of Peter
who hated cameras;
his reflection
in the mirror
between the bottles. 
When they play those marches
and the drums tip away, 

I think of Tom
who asked for a present
on his death bed;
I didn’t have one,
no one else came. 

When they play those marches
and the drums tip away, 

I think of John
who asked me to visit,
gentlest man
I’ve ever known;
I didn’t.  

When they play those marches,
play those marches;
when they play those marches,
the drums tip away.