No Man Comes
From Nothing (1985-1991)
Copyright: Phil Rogers, Lucan, Dublin
|Faces of a diamond||
|Faces of friends|
|Goodnight to neighbours|
|After closing time||
|Learning the hard way||
|Sub for the Senior XV (b)||
|Bedtime after the Feis||
|Ailin at 7 a.m.||
|Hang in there|
|Pickaroony (+ May 1987)||
|Ms Du Barry reprieved from the guillotine||
|By the pool at King's||
|Soili in September|
|Siblings and other strangers||
|You are not damned|
|Ice in my heart in Glasnevin||
|At the Gates|
|A prayer in the back pew, Galway Cathedral|
|To my engineer|
|The Shaman's Lot|
|Bull in a china shop|
* 1. FACES
OF A DIAMOND
The ghostly figure lifted off
the top of its skull
to show the diamond
buried in its brain.
Three iridescent faces shone
beauty, invisible till then,
cut by nature, not by man.
The first pointed to the stars,
pale nebulae, where darkness is divided.
It focused in faith
on the Source which lights the universe.
The second, a bright eye between two clouded,
focused on the world
in desperate hope of goodness
vanquishing the dark.
The third, a blinding light, warmed
the heart, the groin, the ground with love,
God's greatest gift, man's greatest prayer,
the veto to implosion.
By some trick of the light,
the figure blocked each face in turn,
shadowing the earth
with fear and hate.
The figure smiled and disappeared.
I knew it was my ghost and yours.
* 2. ABBA
(In memory of my father, Paddy the dreamer and lover of life)
A bog hole!
We might as well be
fishing in a bog-hole, the sun
microwaving down, the lake surface
as flat as glass. But lake shores
have seen miracles before. Casting
oiled flies as in dreamlike trance,
we went through the motions:
cast, pause, the slow retrieve,
the next cast. The trout were wiser than we.
Years of awkward silence lay between us
but the peaceful silence of this place
was broken by nature: birds and insects
busy, the distant bleat of sheep,
the bray of a Connemara ass.
I was just about right
for crucifixion or resurrection.
Dismantling my rod, I decided
to cast for the big one.
"Dad, it has been a long time
since you sneaked bulls-eyes upstairs;
since you told me scary bedtime stories;
since you and Mamma left a frightened child
outside the hardwood door of a granite-faced
boarding school; since your paternal pride
was full to bursting in the Aula Maxima.
It has been too long, far too long."
I called him father.
He called me son.
I opened my arms for him;
he came to me like a child
and two adult males groaned
and wept in pain and joy
beside that Christ-blessed lake.
We never spoke of it again
and it was such a short year
until his funeral.
The name of that lake escapes me
and I never want to find it;
I fear it might turn out to be
just an ordinary place,
a giant-sized bog-hole
in a God-forsaken wilderness.
* 3. AFTER
(To Oisin, with my love)
You were on the road last
half cut, shirt hanging out,
rain steaming from your jacket.
I drove by, not recognising you
until well past.
Water hissed from the wheels
as I gave you your freedom
to come and go as you please,
to lie in a bed or a ditch.
Too proud, I would not turn back
and you wouldn't want to take
that lift from me
and you in such a state.
But I drove on,
A father's pride, a mother's son,
should not be puking by the ditch
at one in the morning,
miles from home, thumb out
in forlorn hope.
When I pulled into the drive
and switched off the heads,
I saw your curtains drawn
and saw the condensation
on your window.
I sighed for someone else's son.
I could have stopped for him
but, there again, he must have known
that the last bus down that road
passes at twelve.
* 4. LEARNING
THE HARD WAY
(To Oisin again)
Blackbird, warbling in the
you need no university degree
to sing your innate song
as you eye the world below
(our firstborn, torn
reluctant into a world
where dreams die stillborn
or glimmer weakly
as they fade
in the neon light
but was unable
to pluck the thorn
from your pierced breast,
to free your lungs-
you had to rip it out yourself.
Now, sing your song my son
but send me the score
(which I will study,
stroke and dog-ear
as I try to learn
your distinctive harmony)
that I may bellow out
its refrains and choruses
for Oisin, May 15, 1990
* 5. SUB
FOR THE SENIOR XV (B)
(To Conor, with my love)
Boy-man crouching on the
grunting with the scrum,
waiting your turn
to get in the game,
do you see the play as I?
an atavistic will,
jumbles of legs and jerseys,
bodies heaving and clutching
in erratic effort
to run the leather
over the other line.
is not the coordinated sweep
of starling teams in flight.
It is the random gambolling of lambs
on a May-green fold
only two fields away
from a slaughterhouse.
The gusting wind
plays tricks with the ball,
bears the stench of offal
and snatches of the saddest lovesong-
the clear base chant of the demonic choir
droning the Dies Irae,
by the pure soprano keening
of whetstones on butchers' knives.
(The coach signals for the sub
and the smiling youngster runs on-side).
loping onto the field,
pass no heed on me
for I've grown cold
and cynical with age,
forgotten the boundless hope of youth.
Your heart is pounding now,
your jaw is set.
Let your only goal in life
be as clear and upright
as those white posts.
Win or lose, your life is now.
Play a joyous game!
* 6. THE
(With love to Fionnuala, 1986)
Her dress and shawl were green
Interwoven whorls and spirals, Celtic snakes
of gold and saffron coiled and writhed
grinning fiercely, spitting power.
Beads of black and amber, red and purple
dotted her magnificent attire.
Her mother's hands had stitched and bled.
Crowned with plaited braids,
face and hands scrubbed pink,
the brooch of Tara next her heart,
she faced the judges in the cold, drab hall.
In sturdy leather brogues,
she listened for the fiddler's chord.
She danced with effortless abandon,
heedless of the dust clouds
from the creaky stage.
She curtsied shyly
to clapping mothers scattered
through the hollow hall,
smiled away her tears
as she received the prize.
Mammy hugged and praised
her breathless dancer
but that was not enough!
Daddy, working late as usual,
* 7. BEDTIME
AFTER THE FEIS
(To Fionnuala again)
Daddy had not seen her dance
but struggled to repay his debt of love
with scary bedtime stories
of John McGlory and the hairy Toree,
crafty snakes and hooded baddies,
little girls and wart-nosed witches,
makey-uppies whispered and enacted
with mock terror in her darkened room.
His father paid his debts to him,
in that same currency. He told
his ten-year-old in parables
that love does not depend
on silver medals or success at school,
on "being good" or getting into bed on time,
that love is God's reflection
mirrored dimly in the human act.
Her absolution was a happy snore.
Shriven thus, he tucked her in
and kissed her nose
lest he disturb
the comforter between her lips.
* 8. PIANO
(With love to Fionnuala, 1986)
Self-assured but tiny on the
she laps her hands, looks ahead
in her focusing breath.
Then the little fingers fly with eagerness.
Though octaves are unreachable, the dumb piano
shouts and sings her gambolling.
Just a fledgling, her flight
feathers are fluffing out but will soon
ruffle in the wind. She is hidden still
from the hawk's talons and does not sense
the long night hovering over the cold nest.
My hawk's heart thumps for her.
Over and over she plays the pieces,
not perfectly but there or thereabouts.
I dream her ten years on,
a young woman playing an unpractised score
and she her own examiner
and I will that music to be marvellous.
AT 7 A.M.
(For our beautiful afterthought)
* a. WHISSTHAH?
The tiny finger pointed to my
bequeathed from my mother's granny down to me.
I kissed the wheaten curls atop her head.
My little girlie now was growing up!
In twenty years or so, a man would take
my Ailin to his bed. Would they marry?
Would I give him my ring for his line?
Her searching index pointed to the light
suspended from the ceiling by a chain.
Oh how I love this little afterthought,
who shattered our complacent, cosy life!
Would her sister and brothers form a chain for her
if I and mammy die and she not reared?
Would she grow and kindle the Inner Light?
* b. FIVE FINGEYS
She gurgled happily beside me
in the bed,
her belly bare and navel puckered proudly out.
We'd played the Whissthah game.
The time had come to count the fingeys
and the thumb!
Employment in productive industry is scarce.
State- and Semi-State employment will be scarcer.
How the hell will we pay for your education?
The Sergeant Major calls the sleepy troops... Come on!
She screams in glee!
Thank God I've twenty minutes more
before I rise to face the day
and the hall door!
* 10. ACCIDENT
Her frantic plea, the urgency,
klaxon-shattered my snooze.
like a rain-soaked townie
on a ticking paddock fence,
I grabbed my squirming princess,
loped for the throne,
slipping down her finery
on the rescue run.
Despite presumed control,
bodily functions often play
deflating tricks on young and old:
too late, I heard the royal whisper
"Bold wee-wee Daddy!".
"No worries, Princess!".
I binned her pants and tights,
soft tissued her little place,
sabotaged the hot-press,
and decked her out in Sunday style.
"Daddy do wee-wee?".
I sighed assent as I unzipped
and had a noisy leak.
She watched with grave, wide eyes,
held up a wad of Kleenex.
What could I do but smile and dab?
She flushed the bowl on tiptoe
and said approvingly
"Daddy good boy do wee-wee in toilet!".
for Ailin, 1985
11. PICKAROONY (For Ailin)
(Public Public Sector Times, May 1987)
Who 's the happiest girl? Me!
She slugged away contented,
one little hand angling
the bottle, the other
fingering the satin edge
of her blanket.
Two dark pools of innocence
stared from the cot as I crept out.
I did not get far! Light daddy!
Though summer dusk
filtered through the blinds,
she would not settle
without the landing light
The sobs came later. I ran
to find her standing in the cot,
empty bottle on the floor,
blanket in her hand.
Go mammy's bed! I piggy-backed
the shiverer, a light load,
explaining for the hundredth time
that mammy's playful threat, the Pickaroony,
was gone away on holiday,
never to come back.
Never daddy? Never!
But our bed it was.
for Ailin, 1984
* 12. MS.
DU BARRY REPRIEVED FROM THE GUILLOTINE
(Ailin at three)
Stretched on the laid back
I stared at the eight foot concrete wall
around the yard of a Ballyfermot school.
The sound of a tortured jig
wailed from the dusty gym.
Children danced for plastic plaques
and glinting medals.
She knelt behind me on the cushion,
bent forward like a courtesan,
laid her head on my forehead.
Through her hair, a tent of silk
pitched on the desert of my mind,
she massaged away the demons
from my temples. She was three.
It was a grey, rainy afternoon
but the sun shone in the smoke-filled car.
In the quiet time, she and I
conversed at the deepest level.
The wisdom of three years
amazed the idiot of forty-five.
She told me
that mammy and daddy were good -
we had forgotten that.
She sang and talked to herself,
poured energy into my void,
forced my gaze to loosen
from the steel-tipped wall.
As rain hit and ran on the windscreen,
she observed that the happy drops lay still
but the lonely ran away,
in search of the gutter.
She told me
that mammy and daddy were happy -
we had forgotten that.
She laid her head on the block
of my wanderlust. The blade
of the guillotine wanted blood
but I could not trip the lever.
Not yet, not yet.
Time to go home daddy.
Mammy will be crying if we don't go home.
* 13. BY
THE POOL AT KING'S(*)
(For Ailin again)
Tile green chlorinated water
shimmers to the joyful splosh
of playful bellyflops.
Whistle shrills. Shouts, screams falter.
Eels, elephants and stones form in lines
on the glistening poolside.
"All in! All in!". Again wild screams.
Nimble hands grasp the pool bar. Melee.
"Kick! Kick!". And forty pairs of feet
churn chlorine. Final shrill. Weekly
vigil of the childrens' hour done,
I hurry my youngest one
to the steaming showers.
I shampoo and rinse her crown,
my boots and trouser-bottoms drowned.
Youngsters, tight-eyed at ablutions, shouting.
The boys hold no interest but my eyes
slide over the sudsy bodies of the girls.
Tomboy larvae at seven (flat chest),
budding nymphs at eleven (curve-hint, supple),
airbright fliers at thirteen (shy of nipple),
young queens at eighteen (aching virgin breast)
and me in my late forties, father-of-five,
a wingless drone from a distant hive.
Come on Ailin! That's enough, come on.
Out of that shower! For Christ's sake, let's go home! (*)
(*)In some cultures, the legal age of consent and sexual maturity is younger than in Ireland. One of the swimming coaches at the King's Hospital School pool, Dublin, was convicted subsequently of sexual assault of minors. There but for the Grace of God go many of us ...
* 14. SIBLINGS
AND OTHER STRANGERS
Did you ever ask a Callan-man
for the Dungarvan(*) road?
Four did not know and the fifth
nodded vaguely toward the Comeraghs,
muttering : "Somewhere over there!"
They live, in like houses,
as slaves to daily chores,
siblings out of contact for so long
that the mountain road between them
is overgrown in memory.
Katharine darlin' I promise you
I'll call as soon as possible.
John and Michael I'll see you soon.
Pat and Val, the seas divide us
but I visit you in mind.
(*)There are two Dungarvans, one a village, one a sizeable town, within easy driving distance of Callan, Co. Kilkenny.
* 15. ARGOSY
(For my priest-brother, Pat, Mount Argus)
in warm autumn sunshine,
I shivered for you.
The love of brothers,
their fears for each other
detest computer paper.
Much remains unsaid.
That day, before you left for Africa,
I tried to hug the hurt in you
but your walls were granite-firm,
as Joyce's tower
and your depths unplumbable,
darker and more turbid
than the Forty Foot.
I looked into your pain
and saw adoring women
imagine life with you
and laughing, healthy children,
who will not be born,
tumble over your broad back.
Then I saw a crumbling friary,
its corridors and cells,
cold as a corpse. My faith,
weaker than yours, could not embrace
your fierce hope, your blind obedience.
Your heart and courage
deserved my tears
and your self-effacement
to a hopeless dream
left me disconsolate.
They said "Go!" and you
would not be found wanting.
Popes and kings and generals
vie with party leaders
for allies such as you.
Our shadows lengthened
and we both reached out
with gentleness, afraid to wound,
but could not truly touch.
It was as if two blood-brothers
were dancing a ritual leave-taking,
fully clothed. That dance was constrained,
our feet, our arms and tongues,
shackled by convention.
The drumming was heavy, harsh.
The leaver and the left
feared that tides of change
would silt-up or scour out
the old familiar havens,
that the scythe would sweep again
before your homecoming.
Now, in the African night,
when birds and jungle creatures
fall silent, waiting for the dawn,
your hyperactive mind
screams for stimulation
and you bury yourself in books
and thought. The crackling radio
is your only link
to the distant teddy-bear.
Would the mist and damp
of Irish valleys,
the pheasant-shattered peace
of the winding Clydagh,
the crack of well told stories
on the ones that got away
and the boastful telling
of last rites given
to a silver thirteen-pounder,
be welcome now? In the African day
you forget. You lose yourself
in talk and teaching,
as you try to realise
your conscious sacrifice
in the footsteps of the bloodied Lord
of the Cross and divine Passion.
But I see the Cross abused,
the fear of lonely patriarchs
tabooing human passion.
Fuck it, I wait impatiently
for the naked dance of joy,
the dance of your homecoming.
* 16. BENJAMIN
(For my priest-brother, Val, 1985)
Twelve years a priest,
You wonder what it means and why.
Last from the womb,
in naive teens you went
with joy and hope
to grey seminary.
Locked away behind stone walls,
isolated from your balls,
you pledged your life to serve
the cause of God in man.
At twenty-four you made your vow.
Your parents wept with pride.
I cried in fear for you,
suspecting Rome to care for law and face
more than human love or race.
They sent you out to Fiji.
In loneliness and prayer
you did your best to love
the people in your care.
But Spirit moves in crazy ways:
through thickening haze you knew
you must pull out or crack.
On to Australia's parched land,
friendly people, helping hands. You loved
the work, the children's ward,
the broken home, the healing Mass,
The student's fear. You care!
That is the why! Ah Christ!
the pain to realise your need for love.
Love was there to take and give,
to share the hungry, empty ache
of mind and body tortured.
But ye did not at first! For Rome
will not condone the fleshly love
of priest and woman.
Though you knew your bishop would be blind
if you would live your love dishonestly,
if you and she could be discreet,
you wept to see Christ's love distorted so
and placed your resignation at his feet.
How many more like you must bid farewell to Rome
before that loveless Whore returns
to Her true home?
If they say you turned away from Christ,
they do not know my Master. Merry her, marry her!
Live and find your peace. The why remains.
Make the most of what ye have!
You've lived your hell.
I love you Benjamin. Be well!
* 17. ICE
IN MY HEART IN GLASNEVIN
(To the memory of Molly and Sean O'Beirne, 10/1/1991)
In Glasnevin, they dig down
ten long feet at least,
past old bone, cold stone. Mourners weep:
to them, at least, it seems that deep
as webbing ropes ease Molly down
past searching roots. The old one of our clan,
slid silently that bitter day,
beneath the covers of her bed of clay
to lie at last again beside her man.
Ah Molly, thirty years ago
a callow Sligo student came to stay,
gasped in awe as you puffed countless fags,
braved each January Sale for bargain rags;
thirty years ago, just yesterday.
Can you recall rat, snail, dogfish, frog
dissected in your bathroom sink,
your disbelief and shriek of fright
at opened hearts, bloody innards?
I tried to ignore your friendly wink,
your motherly caution: "If you can't be good,
be careful, child"
and me astride my battered bike
heading off on Saturday nights
for the sweat of the Ierne, the fleshpots wild,
to dance the Irish mortal sin. Ah Molly, Moll,
your droll advice was wasted, futile!
The nearest to venery I got, those days,
was the sly lie-in, amateur foreplay,
promises unrealised, the see-you smile,
abashed retreat, sins of fantasy.
Aye, aye. Good times of thirty years all gone:
salad feeds at funerals in four provinces,
Stephen's Day in Lucan, get-togethers,
family weddings: Who's yer man, yer wan?
Husky cigarette-voice silent now, gone, gone.
In Glasnevin, they dig down deep,
ten long feet at least,
past old bone, cold stone. But friends, don't weep!
Molly is free at last.
She and straight-backed Sean, souls unleashed,
roam from home again the haunts of old:
Moygara, Boyle, Drumcondra, Keash.
* 18. ACHONDROPLASIA
(For Con Rogers - be a giant in spirit, mind and heart)
O Little Man, with body-shape
short limbs, big head, achondroplastic dwarf,
by some who know no better mocked and feared, who are you?
I cannot answer that in full. I am
a part of everything, a facet rough
of Him. I know my name, my hopes, my dreams,
my fears and joys, my body and my mind.
And I would rather have a twisted shape
than twisted soul, anger, vicious nature.
My body will I leave behind in time
but mind and nature will I bring
with me in death when I return to God.
O Little Man, with body-shape bizarre,
your parents are good people, proud and brave.
Their bodies are not twisted, misaligned. Why are you?
It was my parents' act of love
adapted by instruction from above.
I have no power over that!
The night I was conceived, the Architect Supreme
decided to recombinate my genes.
I was not consulted but the plan resulted
in the awkward package that you see,
the outer shell that morons say is me.
O Little Man, with body-shape bizarre,
I hear your words and shiver at their depth.
Do all misshapen creatures think as you? What are you?
I am a spirit, immeasurable as you or God.
We all are but a part
of the unbounded energy which is.
My cells are merely passing homes
to house and realise my destiny.
The blind see but my body and not me.
O Little Man, with body-shape bizarre,
you are a giant in my eyes.
Your inner strength projects
to brighten all our lives.
You have found the centre of your being
and, grounded in your love and awesome faith,
your wisdom holds a mirror to us all
to see ourselves in love or close our eyes in fright
at what we see reflected.
I learn from you and I am glad.
If others can't, they must be sad, or mad.
* 19. MARTIN
(In memory of Martin Millane, Dromore West)
A man of the seasons,
he was tanned like a goatskin hide,
had a puckish glint in his pure eyes.
His smile was one of life's solidities
from my early days.
Suntime, snowtime, raintime or windtime,
Martin turned in for six decades
to milk Grandfather's few sleek cows
until the bottled milk came to Dromore.
He was the elemental presence
in the homestead, the first to be seen
when we'd call to Carrigeens.
The Lares and Penates were rolled
into his friendly, lanky frame.
To my "How's it going, Martin?",
he would answer without fail
"Yerrah, not so bad."
Tackle the ass, up the glen
with a hundred of clarendo and a few things
for a neighbour. Sharpen the scythe,
collect the eggs, slice the side of bacon.
Pull the calf, cock the hay,
drive bullocks to the fair.
Work the fields, clean the car,
mind the house when themselves was away.
Haytime, bogtime, spudstime,
bottle of taetime and tae never tasted better
than from a five naggin, with thick
brown chunks of grannie's bread
and golden chunks of salty butter.
Christmas, Easter, bonfire night and Halloween
and Martin was there.
He was immutable, wore no overcoat
but to funerals, weddings or to Mass.
He changed into his Sunday best
in a disused outhouse.
Martin drank a brace of Arthur J
as a treat for Saturday night.
In the open air, his grey head
sported an ancient cap,
except at 12 and 6,
when the village bell would ring
and the spade or hoe or slann
would be capped under a nonchalant elbow
and he would pretend
to ignore the Angelus.
No better man to sling a net in the neck of the Castle Hole,
and no better to fork a fish
with the paraffin sod for light.
And when I took after salmon,
he tipped me off for the one beneath the bridge
and hoarded fat blackheads for me
in a bucket lined with moss.
Wreathed in pipe-smoke,
captain of the dawn and dusk,
he crossed that bridge for more than sixty years
and he would pause
to peer into the peat water.
His sharp eyes missed little.
Martin would draw out his pipe,
the half-quarter, the blackened blade
and would cut thin slivers
and roll them between calloused palms,
the knife perched miraculously
between expert fingers. In my twenties,
when I began to smoke the pipe,
he spurned my tinned tobacco
and proffered his sculpted lump of plug.
Good times, bad times,
yerrah, not so bad.
"And, Martin, did you never think of marrying?"
"Yerrah, who'd be bothered with the likes of me?"
And when themselves died,
a part of him died too.
The new missus and the others came
and he soldiered on with them
well into arthritic seventies.
Then the cancer came and he was sent to Luke's
and I asked "How's it going, Martin?".
He could not fail to answer
"Yerrah, not so bad."
I never saw him after that.
They sent him home
to the quiet farmyard of his life.
But even the mountains are mutable.
He died as he lived, with quiet dignity.
I missed that funeral but later
I visited the graveyard. I paused
to recapture my boyhood. I failed
but said a prayer for my grandparents,
then went over to say hello to him.
"How's it going, Martin?", I whispered.
Only the salt wind whispered back :
"Yerrah, not so bad!"
* 20. JIMMY
(In memory of Jimmy Brennan, Marlow, Ballymote)
Drifting into sleep, I heard
Floating westward at his call,
I found the sleepy town
where I was happy as a child.
Daisy, hawthorn, primrose cups
rioted berserk in fields and ditches.
Larks and thrushes sang in competition
as if my spellbound hands
had medals to award.
I saw the unmarked spot beside the road
where Jimmy died alone.
In sixth class in the national school,
we called him Master James
for he had stayed the extra year
and was the class commander.
A lanky boy, whose raps
of penny ruler taught us more
than any teacher, he made sure
we understood Pythagoras,
longitude and latitude,
cross-tots and the checking of accounts.
When the teacher disappeared
to sneak a nip of Jameson or back a horse,
his viceroy ruled with gravity and wit.
Most of us went far away for work
but Jimmy stayed at home.
He went to work at fourteen
in the local store
and there he stayed until he died.
His weekly wage was meagre
for in the country towns
the Unions had no say
and, if they had, it would not matter much -
the profits went to city-folk and thieves
and bad debts fed the rural poor.
The thin, pale boy became a man,
unflappable, of giant heart,
a man of prayer and laughter, books and honest work,
ceili, company and crack,
whose nimble fingers squeezed
the ancient music from a wheezy box.
His cutting wit,
fuelled by a game of twenty-five
or glass of stout, could lift
the deepest gloom or rupture artifice.
He loved the Connaught people and they him.
By middle age, the phlegmy ghost,
that plague of misty lands,
had choked his lungs to drain him silently.
His old-man's eyes, luminous, intense,
laughed at death for years,
cried at funerals.
Jimmy, rambling back to work that day,
felt his lungs explode, coughed salty blood.
Dying on the mossy ditch,
listening to the crying stream,
he saw the flowers rioting.
The noonday sun
warmed his back in vain
and summer rain washed his blood
into the hungry soil.
His Requiem was black with friends,
gathered from the winds.
We shouldered him along the final route.
A kilted piper skirled a wild lament
which echoed in our souls
as clay thumped down on wood.
There was no shame in us
when hard men wept.
* 21. ALONE
A human being is born, lives
and dies alone,
or so the Frenchman said or was he German?
Who carries it for nine long months
of wretched mornings, bloated belly;
screams the baby into life
when her time has come?
Who lies beside the pregnant mound,
patient in his waiting;
panders to her cravings for ice-cream
at dawn or sausages in bed;
loudly boasts of fatherhood
to any who will listen?
And when the new creation, decked in pink or blue,
is laid in the decorated crib,
don't siblings fight to be the first
to see it smile? Don't friends
compete to say "Goo-goo"?
Lives alone? In childhood years,
who dries the tears, cajoles,
exhorts to excellence at sports or books
of simply to be happy?
Pubescent years, with all their strain would be
impossible with inner pain and terrible uncertainty
were it not for love of friends and blood
who say "Live on in trust. All will be OK."
Lives alone? The loving of and being loved
by someone from the dream of one's Utopia;
the first kiss,
the awkward bliss of the first attempt
to grope to swollen, tingling grapplings
of the new experience
and the sharing of the joys and pains
when ecstasy, that brief illusion, dies,
to be replaced by something more profound,
Dies alone? As leaves must rot to feed new life,
our dying time must come. For some,
deserted in a geriatric home,
or suicidal from life's miseries,
death is cruel, terribly alone.
For others, terminated without warning,
hale by night but stiff by morning,
snuffed out in a head-on crash,
murdered by an unseen hand,
death is swift, its loneliness unfelt.
Those who die unseen by human eye
are surely guided through
by Him who stained the Tree on Calvary
and Her who watched Him die in soiled agony.
But most depart with calmness in the heart,
knowing they are loved and wanted
despite infirmity or age or eccentricities
or rage at impotence to right the world.
Around their beds are friends or family
to comfort them and lead the final rites.
If pleas of friends could stay the Reaper's scythe
or anchor Charon's boat, few souls
would cross the Styx.
The Frenchman (or the German?) got it wrong
or else his kith and kin to mine did not belong.
* 22. BULL
IN A CHINA SHOP
Can uncouth males be tenderised
by feminine appeal?
Can we attempt to see the world
that she perceives as real?
Can we spit out our anger,
pet fantasies, our soul
in language that would please her
and yet stay whole?
Perhaps if we were born again
into female frames
and if we learned our language
and discipline from nuns,
the rise and fall of moon-tides,
the sheer ecstasy and blues
of the feminine experience
might, somehow, soften us.
But, like an angry, cussed bull
when gelded nice and neat,
we'd be useless for creation,
just walking stores of meat
to be goaded and inspected
and admired in the ring
before slaughter in the abattoir,
amidst infernal din.
The nature of the savage
is the only thing he's got.
The domesticated eunuch
may project what he is not.
If balls and straight expression
are perceived as being crude,
the perceiver may be female
or a male turned shrewish prude.
* 23. FACES
* a. BRENDAN
The Northwest breeze was
Woolly clouds were walking on the land,
the salmon running hard.
Tyres scrunching gravel,
we braked outside your home,
Before I could say "Sorry mate!",
you stowed the fishing gear on board,
grinned and quipped "Ye're just in time lads,
I'm off to the bog for a load",
then sat us down for coffee.
Later, on the pool, you shared
your precious bait, collected in the rain,
an investment of backbreaking hours.
Waiting for the magic strike,
we'd have the smoke and crack
but woe betide the one to miss the strike!
For at his shoulder hum the warning notes
of "Poor old Joe" and the dreaded
"I'm coming, I'm coming!"
No mercy for man or fish.
You've swiped my certain fish before.
Though I've returned the compliment,
the odds are in your favour one to four.
In the pub, planning the next day's kill,
we'd sink a pint or two
and I'd be yawning, heading for the door,
when you would nod the barman for two more.
Irish to the bone, you taught me to know fish.
* b. SHEILA
Wizardess, transplanted from
the Clyde to Oz,
you showed me that my view of life
was dead to instinct, inner knowledge of the self;
that I was in a self-constructed cage,
bound by blind convention, measurement,
sterile statistics, white-coated science.
Analysis may quantify the elements
in the beetle's iridescent wing
but can it reconstruct
the beetle's ash to fly again?
Can Science weigh the human soul
or take the pulse of God?
Can it treat its patent impotence?
My bonny, canny Scot, you taught me
to look within myself, as well as out,
to find my truth. May you find your own!
* c. DAVID
O hairy giant with the gentle
defender of the voiceless weak,
Christlike in mind, hippie in a time-warp lost,
stunned by institutional assault
on monkeys, guinea-pigs, rats and dogs
incarcerated in steel cages,
you tried in vain to ease their pain
but could not beat the system.
You resigned a well paid post and went
to join a commune of psychologists.
You, crazy fool, are English but you taught
this Irishman to love, to greet a friend
with hugs of shoulder, hip and thigh,
to cry in joy or pain, externalise
emotions bottled-up to bursting point.
* d. LUC AND JUKKA
A Belgian and a Finn, you, my
could well have been his brothers, indeed are!
You also showed the way to inner peace
through strength and gentleness and tungsten minds,
perforated for the changing winds
which blow about today.
To each of you, my real kin, my thanks!
You have filled my memory banks
to their capacity.
To you I am on-line
* 24. GOODNIGHT
* a. GOODNIGHT TO A FRIEND
As sleepless clocks struck
unheard by snorers cosy in their beds,
unconscious of their mortgages,
their school fees, overdrafts and woes,
my friend, three hours in debt to sleep,
with me agreed in sorrow that the problems of the world
would not be solved tonight; they could be met tomorrow.
Over-shouldering "Good Luck!" to him
until we'd chew the fat again,
with Black Bush humming in my brain,
I left the porch and yawning Jim
to start the long march to my bed,
two hundred paces on the swaying street.
* b. MOON-POWER IN A DORMITORY ESTATE
Alone, on the swaying street,
I felt your heartless gaze bore through
October frost-crisp haze.
Your full-blown shape and smoky eye,
suspended in the west
and golden-silver space-cold light
fazed me hopelessly.
Twenty times I tore my look away
from your hypnotic face, to pick
my steps along the concrete path
and guard my tortured eyes
from clawing branches swooping.
Each time, you called me, forcing me
to savour with my taunted gaze
another flaunted part of you,
as if the dancing particles,
air-born from that secret tryst between us
had rearranged your face, rouged your lips,
mascara'd your eyes, stroked your cold paps to tingling life,
expanded your frosty aura to the vacuum force of a small Black Hole
to suck me into you.
Chameleon-like, you ate my air,
changing form some twenty times
in just two hundred paces.
I hated your power over my will and mind
and banged my hall door in your face
with great delight. Yet,
you are our earth-born neighbour too.
We dance your rhythmic dances.
In knowing how you shape our lives,
we know ourselves, our moods, our wives.
* 25. THREE
* a. HERS (For Sheila White)
She searched in scorching heat
the rocky gulley, three months dry.
Nearby, in a white-barked gum
a koala snoozed. The sun was high.
A single Jacaranda blazed its purple fire,
casting a short shadow.
She heard her name and saw her stone
between the shadow and the glare,
a heavy stone, six pounds or more
waited for her there,
a flat stone, smooth and wombed
from the grinding pestles of Aborigines
who mashed their grain and grubs and worms
in its honeyed well.
She lugged it home to be her peace.
And peace it is.
* b. HIS (For Jukka Kuussaari)
On the appointed day, he fished
in Finland's Archipelago,
whose ice-clear water gave respite
from city stress. A rocky island called.
He beached the boat and heard his name again,
saw his stone, one among the thousands on the shore.
It was egg-sized, round and grey,
just one long curve kissing its own tail.
His friends have blessed that stone for him,
as he blessed them.
It blesses too.
* c. MINE
I searched for years to find my
in Wicklow, Sligo, Donegal,
the peaceful banks along the river Moy.
I handled thousands in those years
but never heard my name until I dreamed
my stone in woodland pined.
Three weeks later, My Finnish friend and I
joined the autumn elk-hunt
in Toija's woods. In this
the wood-scape of Sibelius, the magic land,
my stone must be. But no: it did not call
until the night before I left.
Naked, sweating from the sauna's heat,
we retreated steaming
to the cool veranda of his forest home.
I heard my name, walked to the call
and at my feet a jagged wedge of granite lay,
blasted from the rock foundation of the house;
its name was Tullamore. Coincidence,
a piece of Ireland in the land of jewelled trees?
I took my granite home to comfort me
and put its image in my heart
where it remains untouchable;
a thief may steal my precious stone
but not its power.
(1)After my return from Finland, I kept my stone above my bed. At the time, I often developed angina and palpitations in bed. These attacks stopped within seconds of my placing the stone on my chest. A few weeks later, my stone disappeared. I have not found it since.
* 26. BARI
(In memory of Erwin Westermayer(*))
Sweet Bari, you travel with me,
always within reach as I
move round in circles in my little world,
at work, at play, in conflict or at rest,
or on the riverbank at dusk,
where midges flee our smoky company.
Gift from the Seer of Bellamont,
a friend who understood,
you've been my mate for many years.
At night you lie above my head,
where I can clutch you when the need is great
or sleep evades me.
Your gentle curves fit snugly in my hand,
your nutty stem between my teeth, against my tongue,
a substitute for other needs, some say.
But no! I take you for yourself alone
and for the calm you bring.
When, above the clouds, the intercom forbids
such intercourse with you, the cigarette,
that acrid form of self-abuse,
brings poor release. I long to walk
the earth again to savour you
and when you disappear, to hide
behind a cushion or beneath a chair,
go AWOL for a day or two,
I'm like a priest without his Mass
till you relent.
You are indeed the pipe of peace to me,
My sweet Bari(*).
(*) In 1977, Erwin Westermayer (Germany), my mentor and a great healer, presented me with a most expensive Bari Briar pipe. I smoked that pipe (and thought of Erwin), almost every day for 17 years. I lost it along a river bank in 1994. I hope that a pipe-smoker found it because it was the best pipe that I have smoked. Erwin died in 1993.
* 27. MAY-CHILD
(With love to Fionnuala Jr., March 26, 1994)
Welcome child and every hungry
child of May,
whether born to princess, queen,
careful wife or carefree maid.
May song and bustle fill your day,
your life be iceless, giving, green,
blaze riotous as snowing hawthorn glade.
To you be peace, sound sleep by night. Say
nought to injure love as yet unseen.
Walk safe to April's promise by Christ made.
* 28. MARK
(In memory of Mark Kellett, electrocuted while watching a bird's nest in his garden)
A two-faced Eden tree cajoled
the eager youth
in innocence and love
to climb among its forks and buds.
Full of Paschal energy,
he reached for the empty nest
in the topmost branch.
Fanged by the serpent cable,
he died. In swan-like radiance,
his untarnished spirit flew
with the Victor of another Tree
to endless childhood.
Mark is dead. His smile is gone.
His teddy-bears and toys
made a forlorn offertory.
His eyes, his gold-silk hair,
his creamy skin clay-buried. We mourn
in emptiness, in dazed mortality
remembering the gentle, giving boy
who was not to be a man.
The apple-tree of life and death
grows on, is never satisfied.
Its fruit uncages the mind
but its root stakes the heart.
In the stillness of evening,
the gardens of Eden and Gethsemane
nest the dove and the raven.
Their trees bear sweet and bitter fruit.
The essence of the axed oak-tree
bathes the bridal bed, the cradle,
the cross, the coffin,
the shy sprouting of acorns.
Even if He never lived for me,
the essence of the Crucified
embraces the lost, the maimed,
exults in the shy sprouting of souls.
* 29. MIGRANT
Five years after Nuremberg,
the Czech deserter crossed the frontier to the west
in battle-dress and studded boots,
with fire in his heart, his capital.
Political asylum his request,
Antipodean visa the result.
In crowded coffin-ships the migrants came,
weeks of Red Cross porridge flecked the waves.
The gulls and gannets screeched and dived
and blessed the givers joyously.
What joy to round the headlands
of jewel-studded Sydney Bay,
to see the mighty bridge, that coat-hanger
for battered hopes, tattered spirits of the poor!
The TV kiss of Pope on airport tarmac
contrasts starkly with the migrants' kiss
to vomit-lacquered decking
on sight of that bridge.
His visa stated "labourer",
demanding two years' work
at any task required by his hosts.
His first month in the sun was brutal,
hacking open graves in concrete soil.
He had left his land in thirty grades of ice
and now was grilled in thirty grades of sun.
But he was glad to work for Aussie pay
and sleep inside the mortuary.
Then he, a ski-man, was transferred
to join the hardy Snowy Mountain horde:
four thousand mountain men with skis and dogs
Czechs, Balkans, Eskimos and men from fjords
and Norway's ice-fields, sent inland to build
the great Australian Snowy Mountain dam.
He knew this work and understood his dogs,
wolf-like huskies with their wooden sleighs.
He laboured sixteen hours a day
for four times higher pay than city rates
but ten times harder earned.
His dream had been conceived!
On two weeks' leave, he worked two shifts:
sluiced the toilets of a Sydney hospital by day,
built his Sydney home by night.
His countrymen arranged a match;
there was no honeymoon, no bridal bed
but back to work at eight o'clock.
His bride mixed concrete.
Vacation finished, they set off,
faces and loins aglow,
to their mountain, their snow.
Work-mates helped them build
a ski-lift and a restaurant from scrap,
the timber classed by foremen as unsound
and other odds and ends,
scraps of metal, half bags of cement,
anything not bolted down or bound,
saved day by day for four long years
before the Sydney holiday.
For years on their mountain they stayed,
after the horde had left. But other hordes
of monied folk and jaded playmates flocked
to use his lift, enjoy her food.
They left their mountain once again,
ignored the wisdom of the day,
bought sites around the Sydney docks
and laughed to see the city come to them.
In time, apartment blocks,
great coffee shops and wealth,
their daughter's birth and childhood.
They had no son, for them a cross
but the greatest cross the death of her
who worked and starved at his side
on the mountain slopes.
The rest is yet to come
for lively daughters seek out lively sons
and leave for their own homes.
For now, the migrant multimillionaire
must prowl in silence in his lair
or must arrange to share
a life with someone else.
Well may they fare!
* 30. NO
"G'day sport! Good to see
His Aussie tan and cheery grin
warmed the arrivals hall.
Bear-hugs were natural.
In the next few days
he stomped the breeding ground
from Collinstown to Freshford wood
in his search for fire and blood,
bone, muscle and pride,
brood-mares for Down Under.
He saw the best that limestone grows
and he saw twisted screws.
up at four for a morning jog,
stuck in pedigrees and studbooks,
he searched his notes,
scratching an expert eye
with a borrowed biro.
He made paper killings
in phantom matings.
I flapped moth-like around his globe,
until I dropped exhausted.
But I revived and crawled into the night,
out of range of his singeing light.
* 31. HANG
The curse began when she, a
in first love married him.
She flunked her finals that July,
her belly swollen tight.
The baby gave them joy.
Imprisoned in the house, she tried
to cope with household work, reluctant bed.
He insisted on his rights
and she surrendered mutely
to his pleasure.
She quit her studies, tore
the image of her self in shreds.
The second baby tied the noose
tighter 'round her neck.
He began to wander;
their marriage soon was wrecked.
No man, no job, no confidence:
few minds can stand such strain.
The love of friends and parents
were not enough.
In sanitised asylum,
once singing in her cell,
mind cleft, feelings numbed,
she imagined she was well:
a busy, loved and fulfilled girl,
her life at peace, her man content.
Returning to reality,
she bayed at the cackling moon.
The doctors let her out too soon;
they got the names mixed up.
Within the week, she slashed her wrists,
a crying loon, maniacal.
They took her back straight-jacketed
and pumped her full of dope.
What do they do when they, themselves,
lose all hope?
Once more in her parents care,
she tried to build her life.
Tears gave way to smiles
and children's laughter blessed the house.
But she saw him in the distance,
in the street one day
and joy collapsed. She took her father's car.
Crash tearing metal, breaking glass,
screeching horn, headlights
spearing skyward summoned help.
Insane woman, trapped in the wreck
of her young life,
had botched her suicide again.
Shards of glass tinselled her face.
Her screaming died to whimpers
as sirens stilled and expert hands
drove her pain into retreat.
the speed of movement of the earth
around the sun
or the rate
of the healing of wounds?
Looking through bruises,
she learned to face her truth:
that people who are whole must suffer pain
to counteract the joy of being free.
Each day was new. She loved
the children fiercely, found a key to life.
Hang in there!
* 32. LYDIE'S
Based on an English translation by a friend of a composition by Lydie Rabasa-Lhoret, a 14-year-old French student
Among the elements, I am the
Not the bluster of cities,
polluted, spreading pain,
expending, swallowing itself
on prison-like quadrangles of stone,
not the Sirocco,
searing, scorching the dry Sahara sands;
nor a foul-tempered cyclone,
clawing roofs, tearing slates,
smashing trees to earth,
ripping apart the ocean's thighs,
leaving tears and blood and waste behind.
I am the gentle zephyr!
I sigh my last on grassy plains,
on fields of corn, on twining vineyards,
a melancholic breath of life-renewing hope
in dying hearts.
I die! I live again!
I am the gust from the North!
I whistle 'round the mountain slopes,
circle the cottages of toiling poor,
dust their windowpanes with hoar
frost. But most,
I am the Alpine breeze,
a goblin wind to whip a climber's cap
up to the summit, a wind, my bite as sharp as fire.
I feel the pain of mountaineers,
echo their pain, bounce their voices
cliff to cliff, peak to peak.
I steam their breath
as they survey the beauty 'way below.
I am the gale of freedom,
shouting my joy between two peaks.
* 33. WOMB-SONG
(Dedicated to all the women whom I know who have been subjected to hysterectomy)
I trusted my men,
my husband and my gynaecologist,
to tell me what was wrong with me inside.
The blood, the pain,
the drain on my vitality,
my inability to sleep
or rest or smile
drove me to tearful distraction.
My men would find a gentle cure.
"Ah yes! Good morning Mrs. J.
Come in please, take a seat!
And how are we today?"
I wore my finest suit,
new underthings and Estee Lauder.
Nonchalant in hidden panic,
I sat bolt upright in the ritzy waiting room,
scanning Vogue to the background strains
of Coulter's musical tranquillity.
My tranquillity was shattered.
"Come, come my dear!
It's nothing. You can wear
bikini bottoms on the beach,
look beautiful and not a trace will show.
We know! We've done it many times before!".
They ripped my fountain out
and threw it in a bin,
those men with women's hands and merchants' eyes,
who, male, misunderstood my fears.
They ripped my fountain out
and ligatured my fountain spout.
At least that souvenir in me
I doubt if I will ever feel the same again
But time can heal the deepest scars.
When health and equanimity returned
my need to love myself and life
Free of all the fears of middle age,
I even love my men again,
my greatest birth, despite my absent womb.
* 34. THE
(To Marvin Cain, with my love)
The father demanded perfection,
action with speed, panache.
The tyrant rowelled his son
scorning failed attempts.
Pleading silently for love,
the boy strove desperately
but failed to measure up.
As they buried his father's corpse,
the adolescent sobbed,
laughed, cried, not knowing
whether more in sadness at the loss
or in joy at the feeling of great relief.
But they never buried the father's frown,
his disapproving eye.
They haunted the boy's mind,
driving him to study more, to qualify cum laude;
driving him to alcohol, extravagant manhood,
sleeping tablets, perforated ulcers.
The boy-man tried to smile,
tried so hard but tears came.
Someone should design a filter
to squelch voices from the grave.
* 35. SOILI
(For Soili, on Soili's Day, 3 September 1990, Toija, Finland)
in the trembling trees
whose leaves will shed next moon,
One dies in flight,
Narcissus-blind to tinted glass.
Lakewater mirrors cloud and space.
Her King has left
to hunt the jungle of Turku,
where hawks swoop
and warriors fall
on bloody spears of commerce.
She waits for his return.
The woman smiles,
deep contentment flooding from her eyes
(mature eyes, knowing pain and joy).
She is undisputed Queen
of her man's Kingdom,
made her own
with deep determination.
Once, two children were her wealth,
now given to the world.
But she will borrow back her gold,
remelt it in the furnace of her heart
before recasting and reburnishing.
Now she rides to visit Salo:
I guard the castle,
as two faithful hounds
pad the palace grounds,
eye the wooden bridge,
await her return.
Alone, amidst the harvest richness,
I pen this verse, at peace in sun,
accepting that winter-ice will come,
hoping that the Christmas story
is not a callous lie
told by men who would control
our minds and lives.
* 36. WALKER
(On Soili's Day, 3 September 1990, Toija, Finland)
I have passed
by dark and sunny woods,
along the sand roads and the tarred,
the pumice and the clay,
marsh tracks, rocky tors,
straight and twisted highways,
but I would walk
the fish pools of the Moy
for lasting peace and joy.
But I can walk the Moy no more,
for there are greedy men
who think the world, its land and fish,
belong to them.
And might is right
when pounds are paid
and signs say "Private Waters",
so now I scavenge minor pools,
seek crumbs like Lazarus,
accept their rules, their crass dictat,
with all of Nature's fools.
* 37. EVENING
(On Soili's Day, 3 September 1990, Toija, Finland)
Lakewater lapping on rocky
steady creak of leathered oar,
Red roof, glint of sauna window
away over silver. Chopped straw rows,
man-burnt earth, pine cones,
next year's seeds.
Brooding trees, needled paths,
mica in granite in sand.
deer, bear and boar wait.
To steady creak of leathered oar,
Toijan dusk creeps in.
And kin think of kin.
* 38. YOU
ARE NOT DAMNED
When you are damned and hope
when lonely nothingness engulfs
and you think of rope, of knife,
dark Paraquat, cold bridge
or other ways to end the pain,
turn to Me. I am your God.
I will not let you down.
Search for Me inside yourself,
or at your finger tips, for I am there,
alive in you and every atom shell,
in every wind and drop of rain,
in every mountain, tree and sky,
in paint and grease, in sweat and hive,
in yawns and bells and prison cells.
The heaving, mindless orgasm of man or beast
is my creative energy released for all.
Tune in to Me and draw upon
whatever energy you need.
My priests have got it wrong again.
They preach wrath, fear, sin, punishment.
They forget I fashioned them and you.
I made this Universe,
its glory and its farts and warts,
its imbeciles and tawdry tarts,
the human mind which can
so high and low be aimed.
That was My plan. It still unfolds.
Its future is My play.
But you must know that I
love all My creatures, even you.
Remember, Human, you are made of dust
and dust you will become.
If others see no value in your life,
they don't see Me, for dust and clay congeal
to form great rocks
and gold or brilliant gems are ground to dust
when stress and pressures are applied.
All dust has value in My eyes.
It is My tool, My plasticine
from which I make My dreams be real.
Your value is beyond the price
of dust and work and wagging tongues.
I'm crying too. Don't let Me down.
I can't use the rope or bridge
to end My need. I must live on
to desperate infinity.
I need you and all My mind-things
to keep Me sane,
just as you need Me.
You are My child without. I am your God within.
E'en though you damn yourself to Hell
I'll damn you not, or damn Myself.
* 39. AT
A weary queue of hopefuls,
we were all lined up
outside the gates.
A bifocalled prof,
clutched a manuscript,
that it was unfinished.
A capped Chinese,
an atheist, they said,
fiddled with needles.
A motor mechanic,
in oily overalls,
tapped two spanners.
Lost at the back,
Luke, a butcher,
honed his knife.
His tongue was sharper
than his blade.
The gate-man arrived
with his entry list.
"Where's Luke?", he cried.
There's a lamb in here
for slaughter." Luke shrugged.
"Life goes on", he muttered,
as he tested his blade.
* 40. A
PRAYER IN THE BACK PEW, GALWAY CATHEDRAL
(To Crona and Mick, with love, March 26, 1994)
The night young Fionn was got,
heedless of a carrycot,
the lovers twined and drained.
"Young love is blind",
sighed God in her mind.
The day the girl first knew,
her centre churned with fright.
Her blood was way o'erdue
but Mary blessed her plight.
"Young love is dumb",
sang Mary in her womb.
The night she broke her news,
the boy became a man.
What would they do, dare choose
to "lose" the child, or clan?
"Young love is deaf",
prayed Beth in belief.
The day they shocked their kin,
the ancient fears raised moans.
But Mary, Queen of pain,
stroked brows, dried tears, salved wounds.
"Young love is great",
sang Mary to her mate.
The day young Fionn was born,
two families were torn
twixt joy and fear, twixt life
and what next year could bring.
"Young love is wild",
sang Beth to her child.
The day they named young Fionn,
love prayers from every side,
joining four ages as one,
blessed the lovers and their child.
"Young love grows old",
groaned God in the cold.
But Mary begged Her suffering Son:
"Let them live today well first,
tomorrow then can do its worst".
"Then, live in joy, dispel all gloom",
roared Christ, striding from the tomb.
* 41. TO
MY ENGINEER - AN APOLOGY FROM MY
(To Killian, with love, March 26, 1994, read at his funeral on October 21, 2002 and amended May 21, 2004)
"You never penned a poem
you said accusingly
and that was true.
With guilt, I knew
that I had versed,
my other children,
wife, relations, friends,
even strangers from strange lands.
Killian, my unwritten poem,
in hindsight I know why:
since your first cry,
on entering this life,
I have always taken you
as a living loving poem,
a Christic parable,
obvious to all except yourself.
I took you for granted:
you were near me all the time.
You, placid brother
of my prodigal son,
must excuse your half-blind father:
I never gave you a fatted calf,
a jar of finest wine,
to merrify your friends.
But now, I make my peace,
my engineer, my honest son.
To us, you give great hope, deep joy.
In your peaceful eyes,
your love, your gentleness,
you help us find
faith in our weakness,
strength to go on.
Soon, my fledgling son,
you will fly to find your destiny.
May you build a bridge to span
the awesome gulf twixt earthly works
and God. Believe me, my fine son,
if you can build that bridge,
you will engineer a feat
worth staying awake at night
biting your nails to the quick,
worth working and dying for,
that you and yours may cross the void
safely to the greatest Engineer.
* 41a. CANDLE
In Memoriam for our dear son, Killian, after closure of his Inquest on May 21, 2004.
In this lighting, I worship Thee, my God.
We are wax in Thy hands, wax to light Thy Way.
Christ, God, our Light and Hope,
Protect our young.
For youth sees not the dangers,
Fears not what parents fear,
Even forget prayer.
In this lighting, I pray for them
Until they learn that they are Thine.
In this lighting, I place in Thy care
The friends and loved ones of our young,
And even those who would do them harm,
Ones whom the savage hidden in my heart
Would kill were it not for Thy command
To love, at least to try to love.
And that's not easy, Lord.
In this lighting, I place in Thy care
All whose hearts went out to ours,
Whose thoughts and words to us inspired,
Meant so much, so much they’ll never know..
And, please, my God, whisper my prayer in Mary's ear.
Please do it now in case You forget.
She, Mother of Life and Love, will not forget;
She can't, for She knows the pain
Of losing Her beloved Son.
In this quenching, I worship Thee, my God.
You are Alpha and Omega,
And all between.
O Light of Hope,
Shine through our darkness.
Though I quench this candle now,
May You stay ablaze for us.
May Thy Light never quench,
Thy Love never flinch.
Though our laughing son has died,
His Spirit lives in our trust in Thee.
God and Mary, heal despair,
God and Mary, grant our plea,
hear our prayer.
* 42. THE
(To Are and Annica, Feb 14, 1999: The ford is sandy. Cross it safely this time!)
Somewhere afar, en route
from Jupiter to Mars,
the silent son of Thor faltered in his flight
as from the icy darkness in his wake
came the call of Annica,
a wailing cry from unseen earth:
"Come back to me, my love, come back".
Warriors seldom cry or lie -
except in battle or in bed -
but this one cried at having to return
and now he lied (to no one but himself)
that he would earthed stay this time.
Can snowflakes in a blizzard hold their place,
or autumn twigs in storm their leaves,
or flotsam in the waterfall stay still?
But Thor's Shaman-son beamed his spirit back to base -
he really meant to stay on earth this time -
and with his Sami knife he cut the Silver Cord
and sadly watched it snake away through Space,
then watched in disbelief as from his navel slowly grew
another Silver Cord that upward, outward flew.
So, daily must the Shaman and his chosen mate
Tight-crop the Cord and keep his navel flat.
But night time always comes with owl and bat
and Equinox and Solstice need their rites
and reindeer run in wonted frozen tracks
leaving their scented steaming spoor
and salmon leap the mighty frothy falls
and eagles soar above the snow-capped paps
and wolves turn noses to the moon and call
and earthy women bare to him their all
and breasts need fondling,
lips need kissing,
pain needs easing -
his and theirs -
and he must see and feel and taste and smell and hear
the pulse of Life, must answer - absent Cord or not -
for that's the mortal Shaman's lot.
When, wolf-like, other Shaman spirits call across the void:
"Come back to us, O silent son of Thor, your brothers call!"
What chance has Annica unless
she learns to ride the broom against the moon,
to fly with him when he must go to Mars.