James Finnegan – What do I say to the night sky

Finnegan LE P&W January 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, January 2024

What do I say to the night sky, poems by James Finnegan.

What do I say to the night sky

we live but there is a blind suffering to it
even when things are going well

do you see me
do you speak to me in the silence

which is more incomplete
a bookmark without a book

or a book without a bookmark
I do not know the night sky

a father’s jacket over a fence
at Christmastime playing football

with his two teenage sons reminds me
of my father and Brendan and me

January diagnosed with glaucoma
shutting out an upper right portion of the night sky

is there a force in my life dissolving sameness
drawing me to the non-me-ness in things

a pull a push by the transcendent
into a real world-space I stretch to occupy

it is no surprise it’s no big deal
this sun-year my closest neighbour Proxima Centauri

Let me put my arms around you

I wish to put my arms around the dead
and they are alive when I do
first there is my father
whom I wrote an email to in heaven
which bothered two Johns
Lennon and Sartre
quite a shock for them
recently sitting in my car
out of the blue
I momentarily felt I could phone my father
and I didn’t
but it led me to a deeper closeness
unlike email he might talk back
and the thought that I could hear
his voice went down down down
then there is my brother Michael
I read a poem at his cremation
about Mike and Bren and me
throwing stones at a bully in Dublin
I can still hear the echo of the slate
landing on the bully’s head
we never saw him again
and then there’s my friend Liam
a JRR Tolkien scholar
buried in the wrong graveyard plot
I see the two of us having coffee
in Derry breaking up about that
and Liam’s beaming face marvelling
at the twinkling earth humour in all things

A biological age

there is this body
& there are these shoes
there is a chronological
& a biological age
the latter trying
to outsmart the former
& there is this face
whose right eye winks
when I wink the left
who turns left when I turn right

& there are those who wish story
to remain in a drafty barn
rather than see it roam
freely in a wide corral

my I & my mirrored I say

I am not single story
nor multiples of such
a lived life less ordered than that
nor do we claim
we’re in a post-narrative age
though some do
some of whom seem caught
in an anti-narrative mesh
we suggest there is story
& multiples of such
a life much more than that

© James Finnegan

James Finnegan, Dublin born, was the second-prize winner in the 2022 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition. A second collection of poems, The Weather-Beaten Scarecrow (Doire Press), published in September 2022, has been shortlisted in the Farmgate Café National Poetry Award in April 2023.

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