TRYING TO STUDY PHILOSOPHY
for Doctor Wally and Lady Isobel
It’s long the love
Song the black
Bird’s orange bill
That it can still
Enamour the seed
What is ‘beautiful’?
What is ‘true’?
DEATH COMES TO ME
for O.R. Melling
My nephew, Death, a child
To make him laugh I try on his new hat
Then let it fall off.
‘Again, again’ he claps and laughs.
Doctors have to tear him away from me.
They tear the shirt off his back.
They drag him down to the car.
But he wants my love.
(That’s all he wants.)
He cries and kicks and screams.
He wants me only in his make-believe dreams.
They lock him up in the bathroom
But he climbs down the drainpipe.
He runs the whole of Belfast back
To me. It’s me he wants not life.
How red his face is, then how grey.
He hugs me hard.
There’s something ‘cuddly’ here
And something I don’t know what.
‘Uncle, uncle’ he cries. (It’s weird.)
‘Will ya try on me new hawt?’
for Mary Grant
The young hos-
In a crash
A motor scooter
Pays us a visit
Why should it?
Do we still expect
A nun to be
A black butterfly?
A GOOD SHOT
on being photographed by John Minihan
in a mediæval churchyard in Athy
Beckett welcomes you to Paris ‘So
Long as you don’t bring a camera.’
Beckett finds you and not you
Him. He finds you in the time mirror
Of your own home town of Athy
Where you are only looking for your old
Young self: where is the boy
Making his first Holy Communion?
The mirror turns into a window.
The window is spattered with the black earth
Of the dead in the bury hole.
The bury hole is lucky like the black
Hole that buries a dead star
And the dead are lucky like
Bird shit on the wind
-shield of a new car.
TRYING TO RESIST TEMPTATION
Over and above
The trap of the open arms
Of the beautiful
Is my downfalling.
The tongueless bell
The sea-wind strikes
In the wild night gale
Is for my calling:
A tryst with Christ
MAN A SNAIL (WITHOUT A SHELL) SINGS
‘Over your field of growing corn
The storm cloud will
hang the day, long.’
Is the Hopi red man’s song.
When with white fingers she
Combs her hair down
Butterflies over the corn
Snow seed on the ground
Yet when she turns her earlobes away
Wrath covers the bead of the day
With wings of bats of black prey
Bats with beaks of leather wings
Shadow body by body our
Mornings and light
And the grass grows grey
And soon too soon the noon is night
Me? I will never arrow home to it.
And me again, darkening sand
With this child wandering plight
In my own shadow wandering