ANTHOLOGY CAFÉ

So this is where all the poems come

to eye each other up,

to snigger and bitch

over fancy cocktails,

mocking the jaded clichés

still loud and glitzy at the bar

or the pale metaphors with fraying cuffs

who creep away before closing time

to forage in the skip out back

and the nervy confessionals staring

at their own reflections as they sip

blood-red liquor distilled from worn-out hearts.

Occasionally the place falls silent

when a pale figure in a black cape

and floppy hat loops in distractedly.

Ah, the real thing, they mutter enviously

but all in all, nothing much happens here

and it can get messy as the evening wears on.

The poems grow ever more edgy, you see,

dreading the thought of another lonely night unread

SAMHAIN

Firecrackers explode across suburbia

where youths stamp and jostle

 

in bristling packs

around chippers and video-stores.

 

The old sit in darkness, doors locked and bolted,

their TVs off, while taxis do a roaring trade,

 

back and forth from town or the off-licence.

The moon ltrrks, pucka-faced,behind flimsy clouds.

 

A coven of shrieking kids in glowing scream-masks

head for home with their trick-or-treat loot.

 

Firemen pray for rain. A blue Toyota, probably stolen,

roars across the tarmac at Early ‘n Late, spins a doughnut

 

and is gone. A youth in a grey hoodie, his mobile glowing,

keeps watch from across the road

 

where the line of bare ash stand lance-long,

their last few leaves blowing about like funny-money

 

while out on the murky green, a piled bonfire sits

waiting for the sparks to fly.

Mother

Softer now,

out in her garden or

baking apple-tart for a grandchild.

Gone the steely prow that sliced back from Hollyhead,

defying the fifties flow

to start from scratch

outside a half-hearted western town,

then years of menial jobs,

cycling home, headbent against spiteful rain,

pride and anger grinding the pedals around,

uphill, always uphill.

AT GRATTAN ROAD

The tide is out at Grattan Road today.

The wrinkled sand lying bare and grey as skin

one glimpses in long-wards where old women

discard their quilts and call you close to say

they know your face but then a vacant stare.

A mist is building, yet the light streams through

here and there along the causeway to

the island and in beams across to Clare.

That photograph, same spot but years ago,

Mother, her sister, daughters, only son.

Two smiling women, summer frocks. One gone,

the other in a London nursing home.

From up the shore the pungency of rot,

a lobster-boat from Claddagh hauling pots.