Jim Burke – Travelogue

Burke LE P&W 5 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Five Nov-Dec 2023.

Travelogue, poems by Jim Burke.

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

Halcyon Days

If I think about our time now, how boy-scout skills
set up a camp fire and pitched the tent near the pond
beyond a small oak tree in a wild field. We’d made
good progress on the road from Kinvara, uncertain
what we’d find; we loved the sea and we wanted
the sea, but we hadn’t reached it yet. At supper time
we rattled off themes from the stories of Macken and
O’Flaherty. In those days also, you loved Kavanagh,
I loved Yeats. I always laughed at how someone
had scrawled across my school book: I hates Yeats.
Those were our early Plantxy days too. We’d seen
Easy Rider, but we hadn’t read Cré Na Cille, nor
read O’Flaherty’s masterpiece, Famine. There on
the outskirts of oblivion, we watched frogs jumping
into a pond. Basho had done this centuries ago in
Japan on his travels to a Far Province, and somewhere
up around the bend the sea waited for us. We could taste
the salt in the wind. Maybe tomorrow, or the next day,
we’d reach the sea and we’d jump in filling the sound.

The Rocky Place

Cloud coloured like rock
suddenly descends on us.
What can be said about all this rock?

Up there, we pause for the portal tomb,
then you cycle on in front of me,
become a reconning eye, a dart

sailing smoothly over a three hundred
and twenty five-million-year-old tropical sea.
Descending from the rocky place

I snatch glimpses of you just getting
narrower and narrower, bend by bend,
in the green of the roadside hazel trees.

When We Came To A Place

where the passionate dead
scattered around us, might
return, who’d lived fifty

or one hundred years ago,
their bleak living
that was worth its weight;

the greatest effort of all
to halt things falling back
into the wilderness.

Stretched roses rose up
a graveyard wall,
fiercest the memory

of creating a self.
A rag, a heart, a bone,
a war of tongues

double meanings
inventing and re-inventing
resilience. We sat down

in Kilfenora, knocked
on the door of philosophy
and claimed together

that life is lived in moments.
There was no one present
to share our discovery

early sunlight had cut
night from turf and made
its way from someplace

into our boots and breakfast
cups, fields had become a green
coat buttoned by limestone.

© Jim Burke

Jim Burke lives in Limerick, Ireland, and is Co-founder with John Liddy of The Stony Thursday Book. He completed his MFA in Creative Writing in Manchester Metropolitan University in 2018. Some of his haiku are featured in the anthology ‘Between the Leaves’ (2016) edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky. ‘Quartet’ poems with Mary Scheurer, Peter Wise and Carolyn Zukowski appeared in 2019.  ‘Montage’ appeared from The Literary Bohemian Press in 2021.

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