Tuesday, 30 April 2013

My Father's Steps

My father developed a curious walk
after he took the pledge,
Foot-falling spot carefully chosen
as if he were treading a narrow ledge
on the rim of a great lake of porter.

Inhale twice, exhale once,
between each ponderous pace,
I never saw anything so measured,
Square root of a sober face,
Dry now since October.

Even as he stepped to the side of his bed
to ground his prayers in a trance,
He left just enough room for his knees
as would any lover of the dance,
Jig or reel,above her.

After the pledge he trod carefully
never treading on her dreams,
A decade of years and one of the Rosary
and then it all ended it seems
to my bended recalling.

He went back to his random gait again,
Little regard for steady or sure,
Sometimes a rock, often a leaf,
three months rich, six months poor
at the whim of the demon.

Today in my wanderings it came back clear
in the trees, from my own out loud talk.
Of late my own young man said wryly,
Dad, where did you get that funny walk
I never noticed before”.

(dedicated to Edward, grandson of Ned)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Busker

On Tuesday, on main street
I passed two relic wrecks,
An old man and his music
fused in wheezy breath.
Accordion stretched and strangled
giving off its pain,
I'ts puppet-masters fingers
sheening in the rain.
He filled the man-made lungs with air,
exhausting fumes, his own,
He tried and failed and tried again
to give the air a tone.
Scant heed he passed to passer-by
who swept the shuttered face,
The copper sodden penny cap,
pathetic saving grace.
The old man and his failure
kept each other warm
to a dirge of long lost melody,
Pandora's box in arm.

(dedicated to the 'box', Irish accordion)

Friday, 5 April 2013

To my Children. May Day 2014


A point of life between my parents dust
and yours, my precious children, that is I.
A bearer of the ills which bear I must
We breathe together briefly; soon I fly.

I've seen you come to being, one by one,
In labour wards of nurse and sometimes stay,
Like prismatic colours from the rising sun
Willing you to live another day.

New feathers, dropped from angel's wings,
Satellites, around your mother's sun,
Begot from the wisdom that with fear begins
The unimaginable wheel of time is spun.

Labour's storm that has found a nest
when wisdom stands aside for nature's force,
I tell myself you're better than the rest,
No father ever spawned a Trojan horse.

Love transferred by lips that form the kisses
to eyelids shutting out the the unseen face,
Repeated, thousand times on nights as this is,
You had no say in choosing time or place.

You know me well now; don't know me at all!
Can only gauge myself when I'm asleep
You have no probe to measure rise or fall
or tell if I'm a shallow well or deep.

I never did enough for you or can,
Can't even guess what you expect of me,
Sometimes a furtive glance or curious scan,
If only I could see what you can see.

The Reaper has no diary, makes no date,
Life and death, each the other cause,
There is no antidote to fate,
Flesh will perish, to prove it never was.

A convicted prisoner in my grated cell
I am, awaiting truth, grim arbiter of all,
The moon, the waiting and the tremulous bell
still penetrate this finite wall.

Departing sunbeams cannot last,
Hearken the ferryman, one way ticket from land,
And what my judgment when I'm past?
A safe or slip from your father's hand?