Something less irreverent

A Day at the Beach

I was at that age
when even the calmest of inner strands
could be Atlanticised
by the sight of a low-slung waistband

or by spotting the one letter x
in a densely-typed sea of catechism:
the beach was a semi-circle of hell.
Portly torsos, viewed through the prism

of post-infancy, looked white
and crudely triangular as ninety-nines.
Still, they struck the water
into squalls as I lay sizzling and supine.

They made the far ends wobble
and froth with heat;
shingle cracked against itself like popcorn.
Bodies swirled, scraps of goosebump meat

in a swill-thin minestrone.
Every wave was a footfall of God,
unanimously loud, a sound
that soothed, a sound that scolded.

Of course, I never noticed the hills behind me
like breasts above a corset of sand,
or that a fishing boat was slipping
into the fine slit of the horizon.

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Something irreverent

Bum Note

This one’s a real bum.
I couldn’t call it and ass
like it’s not something beautiful,
or an arse, like it’s not smart.
It’s not a bottom. I’m not my mother.
This bum, it looks as it’s pronounced:
blunt and soft and somewhat circular.
An easy task for the mouth.

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Piseoga / Superstitions

A piseog (pron. pish-OGUE) is a kind of superstition, a certain ritual that must be performed in order to ward off the evil eye. I knew for some time that they existed, but had never paid very much attention to them; they were old-fashioned, twee, and irrational. But I recently started to research them, and found that they are (of course) far richer than I had supposed: there is a piseog to cover almost any event or circumstance of one’s life, gestures one performs during pregnancy, in the home, at the table, when travelling, during harvest, at a wake, and so on and so forth.

They are rooted quite firmly in paganism and in myth, but at some point in their evolution they had to make room for Jesus, and so, in their way, they do what many Irish traditions do – they walk a very balanced line between sacrilege and piety. What is common to all of these superstitions is that they are never enacted in the hope that something good might happen, but rather always in the hope that something terrible doesn’t. Fear is the beginning and the end.

I wrote a series of 5 short poems, each based on a different piseog. Here is one of them.

3 – From the Dead
(You’ll never keep the devil at bay / If you take to the water on Whitsunday.)

There is now more life than death.
You saw the magpie, spat, and lived.
You took a horseshoe from the blacksmith.

You’ve kept the midwife’s rags well hid.
There is now more life than death.
You’ve circled more bonfires than your father did.

You realised the hawthorne’s worth
And never bathed during Whitsundtide.
There is now more life than death.

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A repository of poems

The idea of making a blog for my poetry was originally anathema to me, for no concrete reason. I would like this to serve only as a kind of display case for my work, so that at least when someone asks me where they can find it, I can point them somewhere. That’s ok right?

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