Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Samples of My Poetry


Wisps of opium:
Boa constrictors
curl into curtains
of late afternoon.
Milky ribbons tantalize
like the soft, deliberate motion
of the belly dancer you admired
in Turkish solitude.
I remember you burning sandalwood
in Illinois to set the mood.
Now smoky arabesques
tease then evanesce
while broken trails of ash,
like fossilized worms announce
seduction as but a crumbling dream:
brittle, grey, ephemeral.

Weaver in Afghanistan

Lines of natural fibre
weave the shu*
your people have worn for centuries.
Dyes of walnut, apricot, onion skins
have not changed,
nor the looms nor spinning wheels
that dwell behind
the ‘hidden paradise’
of the Hindukush valley
where a mountain is not a mountain
til it reaches 15,000 feet.

In that free-running spool,
an elision of memory:
spinning and carding,
layering all sadness,
laughter, sickness, struggle.
Lines on your face work placidly
into the web of the shu,
and you, valued member
of your mountain village,
weave a lifetime,
knowing it's in the teasing out
that we are all the same .

* Shu, meaning spider’s web, is a famous type of felted tweed, produced for hundreds of years in the Chitral valley

Youtube clip of me reading the above poem at the launch of Crannóg 17, Spring 2008 from Wordsonthestreet's Youtube channel

Ms. Bacchanalia

Somehow you manage
to be prosaic
after pungent sangria,
vinegar house red,
blotches of black
at the corner of lips
cheeks blanched the colour of death.
You sparkle, elicit laughs,
recuperate that girlish charm
as the bouncer leads you arm-in-arm
and waiters stack chairs on tables.

Galway Mould

We take the damp for granted here.
Blinds draw back to reveal
colonies of galaxies:
tiny black holes
in our new collective space.
“It’s only condensation,” 
Next Door concedes,
“the weather’s too wintry
to open the windows.”
My wooden bangle by the sill
slips into a mildewed coat of green.

For fun, I bought you mouldy cheese.
Last night, it took revenge on me,
inducing a vivid dream
of a white chandelier of mould
that slowly lowered 
through our kitchen ceiling:
a wondrous lichen lantern,
till its lattices became milky spores,
mouths that started to open and close.
Then I awoke, vowed to spray away 
our wall of condensation,
diffuse for good my fascination 
with Galway mould.

The above poems have appeared in 'Markings', 'The Burning Bush', and two issues of 'Crannóg'. A poem of mine entitled 'Googled' appears on Eamonn Fitzgerald's Rainy Day blog here Continuing on this theme, I am interested in how new technology interacts with our everyday lives and am working on a sequence of poems which addresses this subject. The poems below (published in the current Feb-March 2011 edition of Carty's Poetry Journal) will be part of this series:

Backing Up

Streaming music constantly,

your face firewalls me.

You can barely interact

for loading MP3s.

‘You should be syncing all the time’
you chide, with each new ping.
I’m a child scorned,
dumber than my smartphone. 

Like some kind of ancient prophet,
you let me touch your tablet.
I’ll never be as wired as you,
though I tweet, but you don’t know it.

I do not share your viral buzz,
but dream of going analog again,
and possessing virgin white paper
in rolls of my fountain pen.

When did you rewire our code?
You think I committed the cardinal sin
of not backing up everything,
but all our memory is up in a cloud.

Compilation Tape

‘Thank you for the days’:
the song you proffered, graciously,
as our contact ceased.

A soundtrack mapped by you
prompted a craze in me
for earmarking inner galaxies,

labelling each one lovingly,
cutting out an apposite
graphic for its inlay.

Sometimes yours got
caught from overplay -
I would stick a biro in the spool,

wind our chart back into place,
marshal into a kind of order
soundscapes I could not control.

Time has spliced them apart,
but my impulse to fossilize emotion
into musical impressions –

neat, rectangular artifacts -
has never been replaced
by new audio formats.

I recall the joy they brought:
Those peerless lo-fidelity
musical mappae mundis.

Foilsíodh an dán grá a leanas thíos sa chnuasach: Divas: New Irish Womens Writing (Arlen House) / The following love poem was published in the anthology:  Divas: New Irish Womens Writing (Arlen House)


Is tú mo mhacasamhail:
mac mo shamhlaíochta,
macalla mo shamhailteacha.

A chomhthaistealaí,
cuireann tú ina luí
ar m’intinn
gur féidir mo scíth
a ligint
is beidh réiteach
ar gach scéal,
ó chuile imní.

Cothaíonn muid
tearmann croí
ar scáth a chéile,
faoi anáil an duine eile,
is bláthaím i ndídean
do ghlóir is do ghéaga,

ceann scríbe m’anama.

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