Download PDF Here Live Encounters Poetry & Writing October 2022.
August Clouds, poems by Finbar Lennon.
I saw a pig’s head, an alligator and
a wide open mouth with a rotten molar
all posing in the clouds today
turned my back and they were gone
replaced by a plane with hole in fuselage
far clouds still and grey, those nearby white
whiffs and whorls making shapes and faces
while dancing high above the sea in Lúnasa!
They had left the kitchen in silence
I was now alone with the bottle
half full or more did not matter
minders had gone away to grumble –
so what! I wasn’t drunk at the time,
that would come later.
A Connemara Hike
light grey to dark slate stones
depend on raindrops
that hold or fall on mountain trek
polka dots in view fade as drizzle stops
more or less on whims of clouds above;
no force will change how nature deals with nature
an endless cusp to twist
a lady with a shawl hanging from her shoulders,
hair taken from its bun to burst on slow descent
o’er ill-set rocks on narrow paths to Letterfrack.
the lonesome distant sheep
halfway up the mountain,
white boulders on parade
to fool an adult not a child
no gender to apply to fertile imaginations
roaming hills and mountains tall
any summer day in Connemara.
Jane and Joy were also wives
who pre-deceased their husbands
an early fateful calling to the grave
spouses sudden shift to stiff and stoical
left bereft to cook and wash the clothes
loss not only leaves you wanting
it leaves you cold;
the knot we tied was strong but did not
ease her misgivings about
my choice of surgery –her specialty
listening to breath sounds reading ECGs
child’s play by contrast until she also fell ill
when it became a matter of life and death
poems have helped me through the barren years
many about and with her in a starring role
It’s coming close to five years gone
your arms still wrapped around me
left early with a sad embrace
a call to me to stay the course
you live now in heather on the heath
while resting in the earth beneath
I live in your shadow on borrowed time
use your name to start a conversation
of more interest than anything I speak
small talk my fall-back when you beside
no longer works without you – don’t fret
I can survive with smoke and mirrors
In your bed spend half my life awake
nearby dresser bearing idle screen
dust belies its vintage, bought to distract
from restless legs and breathless pain
‘our lady crowned’ on view in picture frame
her gentle eyes on me remain the same
Left all your clutter and chattels behind
presents in wrappers waiting to party
cases of perfume now lost of their scent
toys at the ready for grandkids to come
hundreds of cards for every occasion
scores of fine dresses tags on their necks
Pill bags turn up in locked cupboards
soft and hard drugs now all out of date
some probably work on prescription
helpless unless you doubled your take
better to rid the house of your medicine
has had its fill of potions and scripts
Your spirit smiles down on my regular visits
I bring tidings of joy about grandchildren six
Two that you met and four more add-ons
all dance with abandon on grass on your grave
no matter a jot they don’t know your name –
good genes you passed on will seal their formation
Today I cut the legs off my wild rhubard
gardening has got the better of a fading man
hydrangeas stand tall in your plot of bloom
the weeds not a hindrance to their growth
shut out by a canopy of blossoms and a man
on his knees raking the sod with his fingers
I weep to write this letter and weep again
at what I pen – the door bell silent not new
used to hide when your friends called or escape
with excuse to return to work to operate
on patient who could have waited for a junior
no more decisions to make – nothing happens
I wonder what she will make of this letter
a dose of self pity perhaps! I see a smile,
her words on high “what does he expect-
a second life? More of his ‘me me me’ poem!
he has not changed, the same old fogey
that was why I loved him”
– for me more than enough to cherish.
Behind the beautiful facades
in their lofty viewing rooms
lucky people sit, sup and brood
driven by a desire for more while
gazing down from bay windows
at wandering families below
on streets and pavements
with nothing much to say save
chit-chat, noise and laughter.
As I pass this scene of contrasts
and conjure up a telling face
or two at notables or not, better
to be drawn to awe than held in,
that way can quietly go unnoticed
everyone forgets for a moment
who they are, and what they do
I picked a skin crust off my scalp
looked curiously at my make-up
wondered if I sent it for a test
how much more it would reveal
about my heritage.
© Finbar Lennon
Finbar Lennon is a retired surgeon, accidental author and poet. He co-authored his late wife’s memoir “The Heavens are all Blue” published by Hachette Ireland in 2020. He is the author of two books of poetry, ‘NOW’ and ‘A Thimble on her Finger’ (Lapwing Publications, Belfast, 2021/2022). A number of his poems have appeared online on Planet Earth Poetry and Viewless Wings and in ‘The Consultant’ a medical print journal. An advocate for greater exposure to the humanities in undergraduate and postgraduate education, his narrative poems often tinged with melancholy seek to fill the ever-diminishing attention span of the reader with a story that will stay in the memory.
3 Replies to “Finbar Lennon – August clouds”
I love these poems especially Half Spirit and Anniversary letter.
Finbar has that prized ability to show, not tell . He allows us to share his feelings and feel we are in some way on his journey with him.
Anniversary Letter was most heart felt.
Reality has become a metaphor .
I think it was special to have known Kate.
Your Anniversary Letter to your wife, Kate, speaks more than any descriptive narrative! What has surged from your memory through imagination touches deeply into your experience of great loss and is communicated to us.