Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The Sky Road Hits The Road
My second collection of poetry, The Sky Road, was launched yesterday by my good friend, the poet Yvonne Cullen. Poetry Ireland organised the venue, the old Unitarian Church on St Stephen's Green in Dublin, a lovely, solid, cosy little church, with very nice stained glass windows. I noticed on the way in that someone had left out a number of glossy, well-produced pamphlets of The Gospel according to Mark; an auspicious sign.
The turnout was good (for a reading), the wine flowed freely, and I think most people enjoyed the event; at least I didn't detect any ominous symtoms, such as that dreaded sense of anticlimax, the uncertainty to (as Paul Durcan put it) "clap weakly or weakly clap." After the reading, Sam generously took the wean home to bed, and a crowd of us went to the hotel nearby for grub and booze (I ordered steak). My two ancient friends/cousins Pat and Dave, caught the LUAS (a kind of tram) with me back to Sandyford, though we got off too early and ended up walking in a persistent drizzle till we got hold of a taxi.
As with my first collection, Jessie Lendennie of Salmon Poetry and her designer Siobhán Hutson, accepted one of my own images for the cover. I am particularly pleased with this one (from a photo I shot nearly 15 years ago, of a couple asleep on a Wicklow bus). I believe Siobhán's design and choice of font is perfect.
The book is now available in Dublin bookstores (e.g. Books Upstairs on College Green) and on the Salmon website: HERE
Here's three poems from the collection:
Before And After
for Samantha and Simon
Watching sea and sky
darken and simplify,
I think of what’s now in hand –
the stubby, white plastic wand
you drew from your handbag to show
(in its recessed, thumbnail window)
two, clear-blue lines,
one light, one darkly defined:
a skipped heartbeat, a stone
out of sight, over the known
peaceable old horizon
I had rested my eyes on.
Now he is sounded, swept
into webbings of light,
restless, more and less real,
metaphors on a roll,
none clearer than the top
of his skull: oval, a raindrop
let go, falling on course,
eye to eye with the Earth
dreaming up sun, moon, stars
in its hammock of waters.
Stroking his forehead, I found it
by accident, that soft spot
under the skin, where the young bone
knits... knits... knits...
His lopsided, premature smile
is a quiver of pain. He is all
there, solid, a touchstone
in touch, a part of the main.
This is how I find he has nosed
his spreading taproot down
into my days.
I come to
in my old pose, at a window,
lightly swaying from foot
as if nursing more
than a paperback (his warm bulk);
surprised to find our rock-
abye rhythm – the day itself,
cradling my old head –
even in prose.
On My 100th Birthday
for Barry, Chris, Dave, Dom, Johnny, Pat, Ronan, T.P., Willy and the rest
There will be time for one
last night on the town,
a warm lounge branching off
a dark side-street
and later, much later, a fleet
of missed buses, unhitched lifts
(to one of those all-nighters
of our dreams),
leaving us, as we were,
not quite at a loss,
possessing our keyless chain
to the closing city,
its warren of locked doors
and washed-out stars –
as if we could sing ourselves sober
as if we could talk ourselves drunk
or, after all, make tracks
through the abandoned heart
of the dim-lit 70s,
as if that was the way – where was I?
My shout. And then we’ll go
get ready to make a start.
is wakening there in the roots of bright green moss
coppery cool, our soft hands parted for rumours
of newts, mud-backed, with sunrises on their bellies,
air flicking and flicking its dragonfly lures;
in the first big fear – Fire – I took in hand
with one fat yellow crayon, slowly, deliberately
scribbling the bland page to a big-mouthed roar;
in the lines of a first poem stumbling into my head
on a blood-hammering climb up a steep hill into the blue
sun: the small song of the beast that might love the impossible...
in the high of takeoff, cloud-wrapped tissuey light
of Dublin, tilting and shrinking, ungathered history
of rucked ashgreen, spilt houses, the lost thread of the road;
in Hubble’s random ‘grain of sand held at arm’s length’
blown to a three-page spread in the National Geographic,
a black beach grainy with old lights, starspawn, the firmament;
in the sure touch of certain rounded stones, Bray beach
blue with the last dark, clicking under my shoes,
and, Yes, the dancehall swirl of the first girl whose tongue tipped
my own, intimate, blown kiss at the cosmos.