No Bridges, poems by Michael Durack
He grew up on a farm near Birdhill in County Tipperary. He was a founder member of Killaloe Writers Group and his poetry has been published in a wide range of literary journals in Ireland and abroad, as well as airing on local and national radio He is the author of a chapbook, Nothing To Write Home About (Derg House), a comic narrative in verse,A Hairy Tale Of Clare (East Clare Telecottage) and a memoir in prose and poems, Saved To Memory: Lost To View(Limerick Writers Centre.) He has collaborated with his brother, Austin on a programme of poetry and music, and together they have produced two albums, The Secret Chord (2013) and Going Gone (2015.)
Thanks to the Athlone Ten and the Rome Three
who fought and hewed to death or glory,
the bridges of Shannon and foaming Tiber
lay in poetic ruins (Even the ranks of Tuscany
could scarce forbear to cheer.) And we cheered on
the celluloid saboteurs of Toko-Ri and River Kwai
(cue a whistled Colonel Bogey March.)
On the west coast of Clare
Atlantic waves sap and batter.
Sea stacks mock the erstwhile arches
of the crumbling Bridges of Ross,
while from Diarmuid and Gráinne’s Rock
gulls taunt the gazers on the dizzy Loop Head cliffs
across the fathomless gulf of Lovers’ Leap.
Venus and Madonna
Venus in Galway
This comely sand-haired girl,
plucked from a cross-roads west of Spiddal,
has ditched her jeans and jumper
and her Dunne’s Stores lingerie
to surf naked, but demure, upon a shell,
as zephyrs practise their diving headers,
and a flower child of the sixties
holds her bath towel at the ready
on the sea-front at Salthill.
Madonna with Pomegranate
Home and dried,
and modestly dressed for a photo-shoot,
flanked by a coterie of wary boys,
she will offer to the little barrel of a photographer
a stunning, impassive face,
while supporting with equal inattention
the ripe pomegranate and the plump child
who waves to the call of Cheese.
The spotlight is on the juggler,
four balls orbiting,
flying the colours of his psyche –
red for embarrassment, yellow for funk,
purple for hubris, green for yet-to-grow-up.
This exercise in equilibrium
is complicated by the steel wire
that slackens beneath the stilts
he walks upon.
Nor does it help that his route
intersects the firing range
of the blindfold knife-thrower
who scores with perfect symmetry
the hilted outline of a buxom lady.
For the juggler it is a matter of necessity
that he dodge the swishing daggers,
preserve his balance, juggle the balls
to the ultimate roll of the kettle drum.
Only then can he contemplate
making love to the shapely girl
he will conjure nonchalantly
from the false pocket of his top hat.
Three Ladies in Pink Scarves
Allegros of violins and cellos;
And a flourish of shocking pink scarves,
In the holy grounds of All-Hallows.
Outside, a choreography of swallows;
In the room, each cold eye observes
The bowing of violins and cellos.
But the fickle June breeze billows
Those gossamer identical pink scarves
Within the holy walls of All-Hallows.
Small wonder that such peccadilloes
Should rotate heads and tickle nerves
Amid the playing of violins and cellos.
On stage those Ivor Novellos
Take the applause their art deserves
In the holy grounds of All-Hallows;
But out of the greens, blues and yellows.
Witness three sisters in pink scarves,
With the music of violins and cellos
In the holy grounds of All-Hallows.
The Death of the Shan Van Vocht
(after The Death of Sean Bean by Edward O’Dwyer)
Remove the invisible, but by no means inaudible
síne fada from Sean, and you’ve got sean,
Gaelic for old.
And silence that noisy e in Bean,
leaving bean, woman in Irish.
Run them together, adding a séimhiú:
that’s sean bhean, an old woman.
Steep her in poverty: the sean bhean bhocht –
the poor old woman of the four green fields,
aka the spéirbhean of the aisling,
aka Kathleen Ní Houliháin,
aka Róisín Dubh (Dark Rosaleen),
aka Éire (personified Ireland.)
But the fourth green field’s no longer hers,
the others turned to ghost estates,
the spéirbhean surplus to requirements,
Kathleen in Sydney, Róisín in Dubai,
the sean-bhean fucked.
Nothing is right with our world,
the sun of Éireann sinking over and over,
her best days in the past.
© Michael Durack