Poem Choices - Poetry Day 26th April 2018

Adults & Teenagers

  

Gerund

Bernard O’Donoghue
The only child of parents in their forties,
he grew up in a County Council cottage
by the roadside. They never knew what
to make of him, so when the teacher 
from the National School said he must be sent
to the secondary, they let him go.
He never said that much: but enough to show
he had more brains than all the rest of us
put together. When Joe Garvey asked 
‘What part of speech is desperandum?’,
trembling, he volunteered ‘a gerund,’
and then translated ‘what must be despaired of.’
How did he know? At the end of the first year
he chose to stay at home. Again they called 
to the cottage in dismay, begging
them to send him back, but his father said
with a shrug, ‘whatever he says himself.’
He said he wanted just to stay at home.
The only time I saw him afterwards
(at least I think it was him), drunk
at a local dance when the rest of us
were home on holidays from college, his speech
was slurred, and he could barely stand.
 
 
First published in The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Issue XXIV.
http://www.theenchantingverses.org/
By kind permission of the author.

 

* * * * * * * *

(from: Writing in a Time of Violence)

The Dolls Museum in Dublin

Eavan Boland
The wounds are terrible. The paint is old.
The cracks along the lips and on the cheeks
cannot be fixed. The cotton lawn is soiled.
The arms are ivory dissolved to wax.
 
Recall the Quadrille. Hum the waltz.
Promenade on the yacht-club terraces.
Put back the lamps in their copper holders,
the carriage wheels on the cobbled quays.
 
And recreate Easter in Dublin.
Booted officers. Their mistresses.
Sunlight criss-crossing College Green.
Steam hissing from the flanks of horses.
 
Here they are. Cradled and cleaned,
held close in the arms of their owners.
Their cold hands clasped by warm hands,
their faces memorized like perfect manners.
 
The altars are mannerly with linen.
The lilies are whiter than surplices.
The candles are burning and warning:
Rejoice, they whisper. After sacrifice.
 
Horse-chestnuts hold up their candles.
The Green is vivid with parasols.
Sunlight is pastel and windless.
The bar of the Shelbourne is full.
 
Laughter and gossip on the terraces.
Rumour and alarm at the barracks.
The Empire is summoning its officers.
The carriages are turning: they are turning back.
 
Past children walking with governesses,
Looking down, cossetting their dolls,
then looking up as the carriage passes,
the shadow chilling them. Twilight falls.
 
It is twilight in the dolls' museum. Shadows
remain on the parchment-coloured waists,
are bruises on the stitched cotton clothes,
are hidden in the dimples on the wrists.
 
The eyes are wide. They cannot address
the helplessness which has lingered in
the airless peace of each glass case:
to have survived. To have been stronger than
 
a moment. To be the hostages ignorance
takes from time and ornament from destiny. Both.
To be the present of the past. To infer the difference
with a terrible stare. But not feel it. And not know it.
 
 
from In a Time of Violence, Manchester: Carcanet, 1994.
www.carcanet.co.uk/
By kind permission of the author.

 

* * * * * * * *

Perl Poem

Leontia Flynn
Surrounded by bric-a-brac – mugs of stale coffee and old 
      manuals – Lawrence works at his desk.
His computer screen burns like a Cyclops’ eye. He is 
      writing programs
for drinks companies in Dublin – helping keep Ireland, 
      North and South, awash with hooch.
while( <FHND> ){ s/\x0a/\x0d\x0a/g; push(
       @m_arr, Hio:parse( $_) ); } . . ., he writes,
for ( $i; $i < @m_arr; $i++ ) { print FHND 
       $m_arr[ $i ]; }.
 
Programming language, he says, is no dry, fussy 
      abstraction. There’s tremendous wit 
in its usage: the elegance of Perl – Edwin Morgan’s ‘great, 
      final ease of creation’
in turning the lines most perfectly to their function. It’s 
      not science fiction.
It’s not like: If we can just hack into the mainframe of the 
      computer 
we should be able to upload the virus on to the mothership. 
 
And it’s not like poetry; it doesn’t log out or go off into 
      the ether freighted only with itself;
it walks a network of roads, getting dust on its feet and 
      saying hi to people –
sub cZap { my $sig = shift; &cleanup; die 
       “Recd: SIG$sig\n”; } $SIG{ INT} = \&cZap; –
It doesn’t hover over the country – like poetry does – 
      like a special effect. 
 
 
from These Days, London: Jonathan Cape/Random House, 2004.
https://www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/publishers/vintage/jonathan-cape/
By kind permission of the author.

 

* * * * * * * *

I Think of Water

Enda Coyle-Greene
I think of water as a word
shaped by a child, its colour
quiet flowers that surround me
draped on fences; overheard
in someone else’s garden,
it is fluid-featured,
speaking in a language
I don’t understand.
 
I think of water as a bird
above the roofs, a song-spill
into dust, a tongue of air
where dusk breathes
and the day becomes pared 
down to this: a star, a moon,
an artery of concrete lane, warm
as blood between the houses.
 
I think of water as the world
cools on a dog’s one note; at my feet
a polka-dotted cat absorbs
the kindling crick and whirr
of crickets, a flick of night-
moths pass: silently intent,
they tease the single streetlight
like a thirst.
 
 
from Snow Negatives, Dublin: Dedalus Press, 2007.
www.dedaluspress.com
By kind permission of the author and Dedalus Press.
   

* * * * * * * *

Chances Are

Christodoulos Makris
<a class="twitter-timeline" href="https://twitter.com/searchq=chance" data-
widget-id="431483049818087424">Tweets about "chance"</a>
<script>!function(d,s,id){var
js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.
getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.co
m/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-
wjs");</script>
 
 
For an online application of this mass collaboration poem go to: 
http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/chances-are/
The Twitter widget poem has been running on 3:AM Magazine since 9 August 2014. 
Also published in The Architecture of Chance, Portarlington, Co. Laois: Wurm Press, 2015.
By kind permission of the author.
Author Blog Page: http://yesbutisitpoetry.blogspot.ie/
 

* * * * * * * *

Ceol

Gearóid MacLochlainn
Bhí sé ciúin. Róchiúin. Níor dhúirt se faic ar feadh tamaill.
 
Ansin thóg sé an giotár agus thosaigh sé ag piocadh na dtéad. Go
fadálach ar dtús. Ach thosaigh an ceol ag stealladh uaidh. D’eitil a 
mhéara ar luas lasrach. Nótaí gorma ag damhsa ar an aer, á
ndoirteadh amach go fras flúirseach, ar nós fraoch na farraige.
 
Frásaí is liodán línte a ling go líofa ó linn láncheoil; friotail a tháinig
ón dubh is ó lionn dubh lom. Sheinn sé foinn sciobtha scuabtha, na
strancáin sholasacha bhrónacha ag spalpadh uaidh gan stró.
Comhrá gan strus. Gan streachailt.
Cabaireacht, geabaireacht na dtéad, ag rolladh ar bharr a méar.
 
Bhí tais ag stealladh anuas ar bhallaí an tseomra. Bhí glórtha na
gaoithe lasmuigh ag feadaíl inár gcluasa, fuacht na n-oícheanta
geimhridh fada ag creimeadh ar na ballaí.
 
Ansin, labhair sé . . . ar bharr lasrach.
 
 
ó Criss-Cross / Mo Chara, Conamara: Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2011. 
www.cic.ie/
Le cead cineálta an údair.

 

* * * * * * * ** * * * * * * *

 

Children

(Under 12)  

 

The Great Blue Whale

Kerry Hardie
Nobody knows
where he goes
nor what he does in the deeps,
 
nor why he sings,
like a bird without wings,
nor where he eats and sleeps.
 
The blue whale roves
through watery groves,
his heart is the size of a car,
 
his tongue, on the scale,
makes zoologists pale – 
it’s as heavy as elephants are.
 
A blue whale’s vein
without stress or strain
could be swum down by you or me.
 
He’s the biggest feature
that ever did creature
the sky, the land or the sea.
 
 
from Something Beginning with P, Ed. Seamus Cashman, Illustr. Corrina Askin & Alan Clarke, Typog. Illustr. Emma Byrne, Dublin: O’Brien Press, 2004.
https://www.obrien.ie/
Editor: http://www.poetryireland.ie/education/writers-directory/seamus-cashman
By kind permission of the author.

 

* * * * * * * *

Robot Kid

Patrick Chapman
Imagine being built with bolts
and powered by a million volts.
You’d have to wear a glove to shake
the hands of other kids – or make
 
them disappear in puffs of smoke!
And then you’d have to play and joke
with different children every week
because your friends were always – Eek! –
 
exploding, until one smart kid
unplugged you from the power grid.
And then you’d sleep for evermore,
your only sound, a robot snore.
 
So thank your lucky, lucky stars
and some small planets, that you are
a kid of flesh and blood – and not
a super-voltage kid robot.
 
 
from Something Beginning with P, Ed. Seamus Cashman, Illustr. Corrina Askin & Alan Clarke, Typog. Illustr. Emma Byrne, Dublin: O’Brien Press, 2004.
https://www.obrien.ie/
Editor: http://www.poetryireland.ie/education/writers-directory/seamus-cashman
By kind permission of the author.

 

* * * * * * * *

The Cat And The Moon

W. B. Yeats
The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet,
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.
 
 
From The Wild Swans at Coole, New York: Macmillan, 1919.

 

* * * * * * * *

Ar an Seilf sa Leabharlann

Mícheál Ó Ruairc
An raibh tú riamh ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann ?
Bíonn sport agus spraoi ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá fear a thaistil an domhan ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Cónaíonn madra rua agus coinín donn ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá file ina chime ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá cogadh agus gorta ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá stair agus tíreolas ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá grá agus crá croí ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá bleachtairí agus bithiúnaigh ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá buachaill bó ar chapall ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá fuirse agus fulaingt ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá éisc ó bhun na habhann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá ollphéist le dhá cheann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá spiaire ón Rúis ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá taibhse i bhfolach ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá bean sí ar scuab ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Tá iontaisí an tsaoil ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann.
Ar mhaith leat cónaí ann
ar an seilf sa leabharlann?
 
 
ó Something Beginning with P, Ed. Seamus Cashman, Illustr. Corrina Askin & Alan Clarke, Typog. Illustr. Emma Byrne, Dublin: O’Brien Press, 2004.
https://www.obrien.ie/
Eagarthóir: http://www.poetryireland.ie/education/writers-directory/seamus-cashman
Le cead cineálta an údair.

 

* * * * * * * *

Bunoscionn

Áine Ní Ghlinn
Ar leoithne gaoithe
ar scammall aeir
thuirling cluas mhór ghroí
anuas ón spéir
 
Sheas i lár an ghairdín is
d’umhlaigh sí go béasach
Chas sí thart go grástúil 
is d’fhan sí seal ag éisteacht
 
le crónán an chait
le búiríl na habhann
le siosarnach na nduilleog
le cogarnaíl na gcrann
 
leis an madra ag tafann
leis an ngaoth ag feadaíl
leis an mbáibín ag caoineadh
le préachán ag grágaíl
 
Bhí an luascán ag geonaíl
Bhí an geata ag gíoscán
agus thuas os ár gcionn
bhí seordán eitleáin
 
Chúb an chluas chuici
Rinne umhlú arís
is cheap mé ar dtús
go raibh sí ar bís
 
Ansin go tobann
chuala mé gleo aisteach
mar a bheadh fuaimeanna an ghairdín
á gcasadh is á meascadh
 
Chas an chluas thart
go mall is go réidh
is ar leoithne gaoithe
d’éalaigh sí leí
 
Fágtha sa ghairdín
bhí an madra ag búiríl
Bhí an luascán ag caoineadh
is an cat ag feadaíl
 
Bhí an geata ag tafann
Bhí an abhainn ag gíoscán
is ó bhéal an bháibín
chuala mé seordán
 
Bhí na crainn ag crónán
Bhí an ghaoth ag grágaíl
Bhí préachán ag siosarnach
Bhí eitleán ag geonaíl
 
D’fhéach mé in airde
Bhí an chluas i bhfad ar shiúl
ach thabharfainn an leabhar
gur chuala mé gáire toll magúil
 
 
ó Something Beginning with P, Ed. Seamus Cashman, Illustr. Corrina Askin & Alan Clarke, Typog. Illustr. Emma Byrne, Dublin: O’Brien Press, 2004.
https://www.obrien.ie/
Eagarthóir: http://www.poetryireland.ie/education/writers-directory/seamus-cashman
Le cead cineálta an údair.