Michael Durack – Air Walking

Profile Michael Durack LE P&W Mag August 2019

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Air Walking, poems by Michael Durack

His poems have appeared in publications such as The Burning Bush, Live Encounters, Electric Acorn, The Cafe Review, The Stony Thursday Book and Poetry Ireland Review, as well as airing on Irish local and national radio.  He is the author of a memoir in prose and poems, Saved to Memory: Lost to View. With his brother, Austin, he has recorded two albums of poetry and guitar music, The Secret Chord (2013) and Going Gone (2015.) His poetry collection, Where It Began, was published by Revival Press in September 2017. Michael lives in Co. Tipperary, Ireland.

Air Walking

To re-enact his coup dans le ciel
Petit must scale a latter-day Jacob’s ladder,
plug his walkwire to air terminals,
to become again the human black bird
hovering above Battery Park.

To plant potatoes in the Pond Field
I must swim out over the M7 Motorway,
nudge the tubers into air furrows
bereft of dung and soil.

Those spuds might fill the pot
of a housewife high atop Ballymun,
her feet no longer touching
the ground that’s cut from under all of us.

Reach Out

for Danny Grace

On the final night of Trinity term we raised a glass
(or three) in Cassidy’s of Camden Street,
imbibing not too wisely and not well.
Later in our flat on Rathmines Road I strummed
raucous chords from my first cheap guitar.
Next day with bag and baggage I hit out for home,
and you boarded a student flight for JFK.

The letters with their sprawling hieroglyphics
came edged in blue and red. I relished those tales
of an Irish cook in a Wildwood diner,
and how once, pacing the Jersey shore
after a late shift, your ears picked out familiar strains
from an entertainment hub: The Four Tops
pounding their irresistible Motown beat.

And I wished I could reach out and be there.

Friday Night Western

Friday night, the remote scrolling to
wailing harmonica and stuttering banjo.
So I must enter a semi-sepia world,
the buttes and mesas of Monument Valley,
campfire and starlight, run the gauntlet
of Injuns, desperadoes, rustler gangs,
my only companions my rifle, pony and me.

Maybe a lilting honky-tonk piano
will lure me through the batwing doors
of a plywood saloon to mingle with
the ranch hands and the fur trappers,
the poker players and the good-natured whores;
until the ominous strains of the cello
signal the showdown that will set apart
the righteous heroes and the craven cowards.

Step outside. Nothing stirring but dust
and the nervous horses at the hitching posts,
and treacherous bandits, black hats,
lurking and prowling. Holsters caressed
by itchy fingers, a staccato of gunfire,
the obligatory death-dive from the roof
of the general store (the immoral high ground).
And when the smoke disperses, and the townsfolk
shuffle from shuttered gloom into the light,
a doe-eyed Vera Miles or Angie Dickinson
will melt into the marshal’s sinewy arms.

Whippoorwill and chaparral,
cactus and tumbleweed,
Stetsons, saddles, spurs, cheroots,
train whistle and wagon wheels,
Rio Bravo, Laramie, Friday night TV,
my rifle, my pony and me.

© Michael Durack