Michael Durack – Second Place

Durack LE P&W July 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing July 2024

Second Place, poems by Michael Durack.

Second Place

Someone must settle for second place,
be considered first loser or best of the rest.
Losing with honour is surely no disgrace.

At the final whistle or the end of the race
so many dreams of glory gone west.
Someone must settle for second place.

Hide your disappointment behind a poker face,
step on the podium serene and self-possessed.
Losing with honour is surely no disgrace.

You can accept defeat, go and embrace
your fate or make your heartbreak manifest
but someone must settle for second place.

We can’t all be champions, all be ace;
without the runners-up there’s no contest.
Losing with honour is surely no disgrace.

So relish the taking part, the giving chase.
Don’t hang your head, go puff out your chest.
Someone must settle for second place.
Losing with honour is surely no disgrace.

Five Days in November

The Grim Reaper working overtime.
Fresh from mowing down Robert Stroud,
pimp, psychopath and ornithologist, his final sentence
served in a medical centre in Springfield, Missouri,
he harvests the scholar, lay theologian, novelist
and chronicler of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
in his Oxford home amid the Dreaming Spires;
before summoning Aldous Huxley, philosopher and pacifist,
conducting him with the aid of an LSD shot
to his Brave New World of the afterlife.
Dallas, Texas also on the itinerary where war hero, senator
and charismatic president John Fitzgerald Kennedy
swings into the sights of an assassin’s rifle on Dealey Plaza.
Damage collateral, J.D. Tippit, patrolman and war veteran
targeted at a junction on North Patton Avenue.
The assassin Oswald, ex-marine, factory worker,
kinsman of Theodore Roosevelt and Robert E. Lee,
agitator/patsy. in turn, snuffed out by a handgun point blank.

The Brits by tradition tardy in dispensing with their dead
but in America a busy Monday for pastors and funeral directors
committing those mortal remains to dust
with varying degrees of pomp and circumspection.
The Birdman of Alcatraz unfussily planted in Metropolis, Illinois,
Tippit accompanied by police outriders and TV cameras
to a place of honour at Laurel Land Memorial Park.
Lee Harvey Oswald smuggled into a Fort Worth cemetery,
a reluctant pastor mouthing reluctant prayers
and pressmen doubling as grudging pallbearers.
A horse-drawn caisson carried Kennedy to The Capitol
a Cardinal led his Requiem Mass; at the graveside
Irish cadets performed their Queen Anne Drill
in Arlington, Virginia where his flame still burns eternal.

Lightfoot Drifters 

in memory of Gordon Lightfoot

Footloose but heavy-hearted,
those Lightfoot drifters down on their luck,
the homesick, the lovesick, the gamblers, the forsaken.

A washed-up minstrel on the hard shoulder
in Boulder, Colorado (ten degrees and getting colder).
A Go-Go dancer in love with someone who doesn’t care,
alone upon the sidewalks of despair.

A hitchhiker on the West Coast
(from California to the Oregon border),
aching for love in North Ontario;
a broken heart seven hours in a seven-Pullman train
seeking oblivion in a cabin among the pines,
sixteen miles from Seven Lakes.

By broad highways and big steel rails,
snowed under or airport-grounded,
on winter nights and in early morning rain,
Lightfoot drifters, the world on their shoulders.

© Michael Durack

Michael Durack lives in County Tipperary, Ireland. His poems have appeared in a wide range of publications in Ireland and abroad as well as airing on local and national radio. He is the author of a memoir in prose and poems, Saved to Memory: Lost to View (2016) and three poetry collections, Where It Began (2017),  Flip Sides (2020) and This Deluge of Words (2023) published by Revival Press.

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