Four Old Verses
Four Old Verses & A Newer One
Around Croke Park
In a folding miasma of damp tweed,
Sidling along muddy paths by Binn’s Bridge:
“Along the banks of the Royal Canal,”
Where the local lads have remembered
The turf barges and the Guinness barges;
Now it’s bottles and slats and green offal
That go through the slime and the weedy locks,
To navigate down to the coal-black docks.
By a wall, short of the bridge at Jones Steeet,
Is a blind man playing a melodeon.
It heaves like the form of a snoring man,
Under a streaked, cloudy, plastic sheet.
Rote is now the air’s only custodian,
And Rote will only recall what it can.
By Russell Street there is orange shrinkage;
The famous are dead, or else in Kimmage.
Back around by the citizens’ Cusack Stand,
The new round towers of pebble-dash mould
Hold spiral ramps for the State’s “special” prams.
Boys, with striped pennants in hat and hand,
Go into pubs in the North Circular Road:
Coats pulled tighter above the drams.
And into pints and yellow whiskies,
Go mumbling words about “bloody culchies”.
First published in Hibernia, December 1967. Also in The Kilkenny Magazine.
For Seosamh OhEanaigh On His Emigration From Ireland
His face composed
In the Rocks of Bawn,
Cracking in a chasm
Of bent-greying teeth,
Singing of itself.
The wry nous of Carna,
Sprays down from his hair,
Slivers of driftwood,
Piling on a ground
Plough or hoe or song:
Tossed on the flow,
Lost on the ebb to
First published in Hibernia, October 1968.
I gashed my shins on brambles in the
And bruised my chest on the shale of
Delinquent brook banks.
Pulling my splay-haired brow from the stream’s
I poured my body on the rocks, in
A pool to stagnate.
A sky of impinging stars: torn sheets of
Exploded and the debris fell to form
A horse I rode once.
First published in Hibernia, March 1969.
A Winter Sunday near Tullycross
Rain in its fitful imprecision
Mats tentacles of dripping hair,
Above the sun-laced famine wall
The desperate spray abuses.
Shadows of green and shades of rust,
All is bent to the wailing east.
All but the loose-skinned, vein-traced cheeks
That lean toward Innisboffin.
Turf chunks fall and burn to powder.
The tea dregs cool on the table where
Hard, bone-pale fingers delicately
Count the coins of dead tradition.
First published in Hibernia, May 1973.
A Door Perceived
First: the door itself.
Ideally of solid, seasoned timber;
Proper panels, moulded borders.
(Not you hollow-framed veneer.)
The architrave, embrasure and surround
Will show an inescapable inheritance of age.
Next: furniture removed.
Number, knocker, knob, escutcheon, letter box.
(Bicarb and vinegar will help to cut the verdigris.)
Burning-off: stiff scraper and at one time done with paraffin-fired torch,
But now the electric-powered heat gun.
(Do not use for drying hair.)
This job, perhaps, best suited to apprentices?
Then: prime to leave the revealing coat
And show the the cracks and scars of now no-longer virgin wood.
Filing: here’s an edit stage.
Quick blades wet with powder paste or caulk.
(The former to be well rubbed down.)
Careful undercoat and undercoat again.
For someone, someday, will survey the work.
Final coat: all-weathering gloss or satinwood.
The finish is a tradesman’s choice.
Burnish brass then all replaced.
The colour? That should have been agreed
Between the client, light and me.