The writers of these poems are looking back and forth through time, analysing, enjoying and marvelling. Sue Haigh’s dog has been sailing and greets the seal. Michael Murray leaves an unsatisfactory cityscape and sees moths. Mike Gallagher documents a family interlude. This group of poems seem to have a coastal element, even the ones that do not, involving distance, a change of place. Catherine McDonald makes it simple, with a fisherman seeing a rainbow in the sea.
Like Eileen Carney Hulme the poets look out of windows, and see not one thing but contrasting recollections or insights.
What you see is what you decide to see.
Thanks to these five poets. To contribute, send previously published poems (published at least three years ago) to which you hold the copyright, by email to sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.
The top road at night, the street lights stop
half up the hillside; the sink-town sunk
in fog below. Stand there among cat’s eyes,
the camber of the road shining,
outside the town boundary,
that last fall of light.
Occasional cars, their eager white headlights,
wind down into it; red tail lights –
up all night arguing – drag home.
The town has squandered all,
it has rifled your accounts:
savings, pensions gone –
the fruits of a generation smashed there.
And has given you
It is in the long cooling that words bring;
and a bald laugh’s quick quench.
When street lights end,
those tipped-up bowls,
strung along the hillside as if for a wake-
no christening, or wedding…
where they end, is blackness, waiting.
And you wonder, What was it
broke there, spilled itself? And, Will it let
you go into it, pass through?
How can it allow a light to show
out there where it is most complete?
And then you see them, moths,
as they flicker in; their home is out there:
watch them, they flicker away again.
And you want to follow them, be one of them.
Eileeen Carney Hulme
Life waits inside us
Like a Sunday morning
peeling back light
to find a winter sky
drowned by dull rain
and driftwood stars
gathered at the window,
you think perhaps
you should let them in
these damp stars, that once
you wished upon
on another Sunday, summer
huddled in the dunes
moulded skin to skin
to your midnight lover,
no, close the curtains
stop and think
how long it takes
for stars to dry out
to cease their drip, drip, drip.
from The Space Between Rain 2010 published by Indigo Dreams
Arctic Ocean meets Caribbean on Kinshaldy Beach in Winter.
For Lou, the dog who sailed to Scotland from the French West Indies and the seal who swam from the Arctic Ocean.
We are alone. except, of course,
for miles of frosted shore;
and cormorants on distant banks,
a benediction of wings
wedding sea and pearl-domed sky;
and oyster catchers at the edge
bobbing in prayer
for a thousand sailors, lost
beneath the crash of waves;
and Lou, his wild exuberance
etched in frozen sand.
an hour out we reach the fence
and the wind comes hard about,
hauls in sheets of rain
to soak our seaward side.
Watching, as if for us,
a shimmering form rises
from the sea, stares
his marble stare at Lou,
opens his silken jaw.
his mer-man song of long lament
drifts on drenched grey air;
yep – yep, yep – yep, yep-yep.
Lou turns a dog-ear,
folds legs beneath him
echoes the call,
‘yep-yep, yep-yep, yep-yep.
blessings, Man, abu ye!
how was the journey, brother?
where’s your other shore?’
‘a thousand bone-chill miles away,
as the fish flies. And yours?’
‘Man, a hundred thousand more,
from Sainte-Marie Galente,
by Guadeloupe and Amsterdam.
and then a thousand yet.
well-met, Man, well-met!’
first appeared in Northwords Now and was used in artist Moira Buchanan’s “All Washed Up” exhibition in Irvine. (author’s image)
You will not remember our special time.
Frail aunts recall that my grandad
played ball with me in Oghill bog,
shared sidecar reins through Finiskill
on the trot to Mohill mass,
and yet I do not mind the man.
Still, I know that somewhere deep
within, the music of place names –
Carrick, Drumshambo, Cloonbo, Gorvagh –
echo the whispers of that man in Oghill bog,
Paddy Reynolds. And so to us.
Your stay was short, mere setting down of roots.
First hours were fraught; you cringed
with fright at my approach. But patience
brings its own reward; next morning
my arms reached down, your hands reached up,
we shared a porridge bowl. Afterwards,
and twice a day every day, we shared
a garden bench, looked out from Renagown
on a big, big world. You, nine months old,
wary of the wary dog, gleeful when he rolled
on gravel path, wished that you could do the same.
I watched those eager saucer eyes absorb
primrose shiver, snakehead dance, the tulips’
gentle sway. I melted when they turned to mine,
all playful innocence, euphoric with the wonder
of it all. A sudden gust left me chill; body charged,
you sprang to meet it, exhilarated curls flying,
gurgled all the way indoors. And then,
on the very eve of your going, Nature itself
saluted one who so much pleasure gave;
we heard our first cuckoo of Spring,
the pheasant piped again in Sheehy’s field,
a swallow scout sussed out the nesting stall.
You will not remember our special time –
such joy sustains only the old. Still, one day
in your London home, you may take down
a dusty tome and find the music of these words
re-echo from that man in Renagown.
2011 video by Renagown Productions. Author’s image. An audio version of the poem can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wIZgDLvjes
The Fisherman’s Spell
The fisherman winks
casting a spell over the shore
as he cuts his baited line through
a glimpse of a rainbow
Caught up in the surf
the rainbow breaks
and vanishes into the sea
washing all its colours away
the surf rolls back into the sea
the fisherman smiles
A glimpse of a rainbow
caught up in a moment of time
April 2009. published in issue 1 of the Lyric Poetry Magazine