Jim Burke – Travelogue

Burke LE P&W September 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing September 2023

Travelogue, poems by Jim Burke.

These new poems are for a Travelogue in collaboration with John Liddy.

The Future Pulses in the Stone’s Heart

After a stone carving in Furbo

That flat stone I skimmed five bounces or more
and I swore I’d pluck up the courage to ask you
out, or the stone I dug up in the sizzling heat,
that stone I stole from the singing shore,
or the patient smooth stones blank-faced bare
without a letter or a word somewhere in the future
waiting to be chiseled. Or that big stone dotted
with efflorescence, that I climbed on top of
to sit down and watch the river flow, or island
stones, flung about of a Sunday afternoon
out of sight of priests and polis, the practice carried
off by island men when they gathered on weekend
afternoons to fling American stones around
in Boston, while they yearned for home.

Beautiful Lofty Things

Let us go now
from the turf smell
the sound of reels
from a country pub
to local accents
to a woman and man
in a field
noticing the coming
and the going
of seasons
to their donkey
on the shore
drawing dulse
Let us watch the sea
rise above the boat
then fall behind us
like something we cannot
believing in the skipper
as the waves sound
at our heels
Let us arise and go now
to a sea-water-mirror
polished brightly
to our dying language
to our dead
where ghosts speak
tall tales entertaining
where a dog
knowing joy
is playful
Hurry up please it’s time
the clock is ticking
the islands
are catching up
to the world
Let the men in the Christmas
cowboy hats worn now
in the meadows
hold our hands
as we sing the bringing
in of hay
Let us arise and go now
for there is more beauty
to be found
in today’s moment
than in one hundred years
of yesterday mornings
Let us throw our words
on the pan and watch
as they sizzle in the interior
of this county
So long
summer showers
Goodbye Kinvara
Musha, let’s go
in the morning light shining
upon the mountainside
past the forest where
the tree falls quietly
and things are
where we do not casually
reduce our destiny
but breathe in every moment
of this long midsummer’s day
Let us arise and go now
and ready to go
talk together
yourself and myself
under the pictures
on the mantel
in this hostelry
showing up
a slice of life
on a fine day
that confounds the cynic
rises above the critic
and his nearest exit
Let us be off over the hills
after lofty things
the old spiritual
and cultural circuits


We take our pick following
spidery legs of roads that
lead us to the water’s edge.

Rumbling rivers reach too,
singing and dreaming,
hurrying to the sea.

It feels like we are
truanting all day, searching
for a lovely wild place.

At these moments we can do
anything, go barefoot into the water
or up on the rocks, the sand.

We can change and praise
unfamiliar colours, the floating
colours that meet the sky.

We can swan-watch from the dunes
or check out oystercatchers
wading in the surf.

We can talk any kind of talk we want
the way the water strikes the rocks
or the sand, in its simpler world.

© Jim Burke

Jim Burke lives in Limerick, and is co-founder with John Liddy of The Stony Thursday Book. His haiku featured in the anthology Between The Leaves (2016) edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky. Quartet, poems with Mary Scheurer, Peter Wise and Carolyn Zukowski (2019). Montage, The Literary Bohemian Press (2021).

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