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Poetry

We spoke of you today, James Stuart Dunne,

Surgeon of the trenches. The swallows rose

And dived across the skies in tumult fun

In practice for their pyramids. Their great-

Great Ancestors had known you round Clonkeen

Preparing for your Internship. Your dream,

Soon nightmare broken, in the savage scream

Of salvage amputation. You set sail

Today, in August, Nineteen and fourteen;

The swallows looked the same, but saw the change

Through smoke, and noise and turmoil, and despair

Where broken men bewildered, found your care.

By rampart breach a Surgeon’s skill was known,

Where brave men wept for home, and home disowned.


One of a writer’s faults remains worship

of the bog-soggy ground on which he walks.

That ground is words and his holy idol

remains the dictionary on a shelf.

To the letter he wishes to be true,

yet a poet who wants to make things new

will forge fresh likenesses in the mirror

of words like a child making faces

that impishly, archaically appear

to resemble the facial expressions

of monkeys playing games with each other:

winking, grinning, mocking, and gesturing.

Unless the Monkey in the poet laughs,

Words will never become epigraph.


First frost of autumn on petals and leaves.

Summer is already a memory

lost in the cold fog of cloudy morning.

Time to pick apples, quince, say fond farewell

to desperate insects flitting about.

The sky will soon be a river of snow

And my mind will be as frozen as ice.

Boiling kettle will now be my best friend.

 

My grandson is more accepting of change,

which may say something about my own age.

It’s time once more to become a bookworm,

find warmth in the wisdom of other men.

Did I say wisdom? Does wisdom still play

a role in life on a cold winter’s day?


I read in newspapers that someone has died.

Sudden death seems to happen every day,

yet few people appear aware of this

as tv sit-coms and sporting events

celebrate victories or fantasies,

while thousands die each day in global war.

And just what is it that we are here for?

 

Some say we’re merely here to gobble food,

do laundry, cut grass, play video games,

or do jobs that robots ask us to do.

Few possess satisfactory answers.

As for me, I’m skipping out to sunlight

to watch blue passing clouds, ask butterflies

if they know why humans are so obtuse.


Sleep is the thinker’s laboratory

where people chat and mostly agree

on what is to be done in this frail world.

Conversation may be enigmatic,

but everyone speaks with shy eloquence.

Dreamworld rarely follows chronology

as one remains spectator to one’s self

acting in imaginary pageant.

 

No rules crimp the script of Dreamworld—

just about anything can happen there.

Dreamworld escape can be a pleasant place

where problems are solved to satisfaction.

Yet waking to sunlight with dew on lawn,

nightmarish confusion trumpets its horn.  


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I have a friend who dreams about numbers,

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When whitecaps wave with ardent excitement

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150 years ago Isola Wilde died in Edgeworthstown, in Co. Longford. She was the younger sister of Oscar Wilde. She was 9 years old; he was 12. He was devastated....

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I

It was a time when,

Hand in hand, we danced

With chaos and her children.

Day and night:

Both soon became androgynous.

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In Boston the air tastes like carrot soup

When it doesn’t smell of fried clams

 

In Maine the air tastes like honey

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