Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One December 2022.
Kindred spirits , poems by Michael Durack.
And what did they see in us?
We wore white skin like their persecutors
(the ones who offered them their Hobson’s Choice
at the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek)
and we lived far away across an ocean.
Surely we were no concern of theirs.
With good reason they called their migration
westwards from Mississippi The Trail of Tears
their Promised Land a travesty,
beset by thieves and murderers.
They were hungry, tired and broken,
disoriented, their best men dead.
But touched by a vision of our wretchedness,
our Famine Walk another trail of tears,
they reached for the little they had left,
gifted us what they could.
Nine eagle feathers forged from stainless steel
unite to form a feeding bowl in Cork
that reaches out to distant Oklahoma
to signal thanks, standing for kindred spirits
that know no tribal bounds, no colour bar.
Those left-of-centre, for-the-birds
fictional or real-life ornithologists.
Pre-patricidal playboy, Christy Mahon
fooling over little birds – finches and felts.
Alfred Hitchcock’s dystopian flocks
massing on the telegraph wires of Bodega Bay.
Sinners and saints. Martin Cahill, General,
tit-for-tat, eye-for-an-eye gangster,
his prized carrier pigeons sabotaged by police.
Brown-robed Francis of Assisi
haloed with wings and feathers,
and Heaney’s Kevin of Glendalough,
his outstretched arm a blackbird-nesting branch
Robert Stroud enigma, pimp and psychopath,
tending to his distressed sparrows and caged canaries,
Birdman of Leavenworth, though birdless in Alcatraz,
fifty-four years a prisoner, laid in the earth 1963,
the day they buried John F. Kennedy.
Indestructible as the bronze effigy at the South Pole Inn,
he might have been hewn from Anascaul sandstone,
would not be out of place in Táin or Iliad.
Impervious to Antarctic crevasses, Southern Ocean gales,
this modest seaman, sledge hauler, reluctant hero
tobogganed down ice falls like a Winter Olympian.
Proof against scurvy, melancholia, exhaustion
but with a heart to dote on husky pups
to grieve for Bones, the culled Manchurian pony,
to weep his last farewell for ice-doomed Scott.
Harder than timbers of Terra Nova or Discovery,
more durable than Endurance, a match for Beardmore Glacier,
South Georgian cliffs, but not for the surgical wards
of Tralee and Bon Secours in an antiseptic Ithaca,
a ruptured appendix the final postscript to his Odyssey.
© Michael Durack
Michael Durack grew up on a farm and now lives in Ballina, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. His poems have appeared in publications such as The Blue Nib, Skylight 47, The Cafe Review, Live Encounters, The Banyan Review, The Waxed Lemon, Drawn to the Light, The Poetry Bus, The Stony Thursday Book, The Honest Ulsterman and Poetry Ireland Review as well as airing on local and national radio. With his brother Austin he has recorded two albums of poetry and guitar music, The Secret Chord (2013) and Going Gone (2015). He is the author of a memoir in prose and poems, Saved to Memory: Lost to View (2016) and two poetry collections, Where It Began (2017) and Flip Sides (2020) published by Revival Press.