Song of lies

Here is something old and edited. It’s taken from a series of poems based on an old tradition called the ‘song of lies’, a kind of machismo displayed through oral poetry – whoever is the most fantastical wins, whichever the wildest lie. That’s basically poetry to a certain extent. Pearse Hutchinson wrote a wonderful version of the song of lies, in which “[I] saw a young woman of Greece / boiling the city of Cork over a bonfire”. Yes.

Song of Lies II

 It is wordlessly documented –
as if the fact had fingers and
kept them crossed in the attic, in
the hope of being summoned –
that he abhorred tobacco,
and yet, if I were to affect
a quirk by trading in my rollies
for a pipe, it would be as an ode to
him, an act of reverence and
mimesis, for all those times I watched
his cheeks shrivel as he drew
the smoke in, mottled and furrowed and
brown as a salted trout.

I presume he was buried in a
suit, the same navy pin-stripe
he wore to a lifetime of christenings
marriages, removals,
but I know his casual jacket
was made of heather:
it soothed and it burnt,
it was snug but rough-hewn,
it smelt less of sweat
than of pollen, it only
had colour up close
and it lasted forever and
no cow’s hoof or cowshit
could stain it for long.

He spent his last years,
by all accounts, snared
inside a shroud of cataleptic
muscle and baby-blue pyjamas.
At this time he saw me as
a robot or some other machine
he hadn’t grown up with,
because I could feed and
fed him, because I barely spoke
his language, because I never
kicked a ball or brought the coal in.
So all the time he’d study me
with his one good eye,
not sure if I had killed
or resurrected him.

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