This one-eyed jack, this pop-up, this joker
This arrogator, this poor billionaire
This matchstick to hard wood, this fire poker
This bombastic firework flashing in air
His flesh will fade since he’s simply mortal
Brittle celebrity not withstanding
His wife’s in diamonds at their gala ball
But he will not be the last man standing
Reality T.V. made him a star
Despite a secret wish to fire us all
Flaunts himself as the people’s avatar
Like his stock on Wall Street, he too will fall
Blustering sucker puncher, angry, smug
For now he gives orders like one more thug
walking at night in the woods between my childhood home and the river
fully awake and wondering, in a dream both strange and familiar
particular trees reach out like lovers, breathing in their distinct rhythms
rough skins pulsating with heat, colours of their chemicals glowing with
rich greens and deep blues, druidic mysteries and radio waves
I am drawn by their yearning, their knowing, and their intimacy
a filament sprouts from my hip to the nearest tree, shimmering, transparent
trembling with desire, I am rooted in the same ground
white traces of a broom mark the blue
where morning sky is swept clean
dogs are silent and crows hold their tongues
while citizens of Rathdrum stir in their sleep
on the green where Parnell’s statue stands
– ancient rebel meeting ground
fir trees guard the eastern front
– tall soldiers where they need not be
a locked iron gate bars the way
in remains of walls that still hold firm
sparrows come and go through the park
a stream slips under the southern wall
an island of turf and rounded rock
holds its rough ground out on the pond
one ancient misshapen tree stands
where Parnell’s bronze gaze rests
beyond his crossed arms and bold right foot
this town continues to hold him in memory
I heard no words until Parnell spoke
wrote nothing down until I walked the green
I was half-blind until the sun reached the glen
I stood for nothing until I stood here
for Brodie Power
Ireland, Summer 2006
down below in the swamp
far from the clouds’ reflection in the lake
without the aid of sun or any medicine
far even from the pale light of stars
I am still agile and in good spirits
born with the map of the city on my hand
with the animus of silicon in my veins
the untraceable guile of the solitary
my morbid short-sightedness will guide you
let my air of superiority fill your lungs
drink in the forty-proof liquor of divinity
the brain-fire that warms this dreary bog
my twitchy nerves and hyper vigilance
have burned away the flesh
I’m one of the happy and vigorous ones
with luminous skin and handy serums
I don’t cheer for anyone or any team
the sky in the morning is my obsession
what will be your understanding
when the language of flowers is silent?
Raise high the roof beam carpenters
Open wide the city gates
Let those once turned away now enter
Welcome the ones who are seeking shelter
Who has the right to sanctuary?
Who is pure enough to stand in a holy place?
Who is gifted enough to climb a sacred mountain?
Nobody owns the earth
The earth takes care of us
We must also be caretakers
We all rose out of a distant sea
That ancient ocean can drown us again
The worker rejected by the builder
Is now the city’s architect
Children found alive in the camps
Are now the peacemakers
You who turn your eyes to worthless things
You can not see what is beautiful
But those who do not swear to a lie
They will witness the truth
not merely words for discord
what makes the other rich
the good old days again
in debt til we die
kicked out of paradise
immersed in hard labour
not glib and not sentimental
daring not to encrypt ourselves
such underwhelming bits of flesh
with only a candle wick to light the way
we’ve instigated nothing new
no creation to unveil
no wedding glass to break
we bend our shaven heads
toward the night
without words of angst or anger
an I who speaks, an I who stands
despite all the dark thoughts
We make him famous, with our busy mouths,
this man who is more servant than bruised leader,
petrified, tangled in his own lines,
leaving the reporters cooling their heels.
As for me, my lips won’t be sealed in service
to his fear, or some ancient civic deference.
Yet my mouth goes dry hearing his triumphalist clichés;
invited to laugh like a child at his stale put-downs.
He has replaced himself with an empire of followers:
the morose, the sunny, the shy, the stalled.
I become, without agreement, his private doctor;
treating this naked man, stuffed full of doubt,
reduced to the remnants of a public self,
timid and free, fragile and powerful.
We have become the henchmen to his emotions,
swinging daily from impotent anger to gleeful gloating.
Then, he was in fame’s sweet mosh pit;
soon he will languish, not knowing where to turn.
Notoriety gives him the kiss of life and we cringe.
Then, the country was glued to his side and he gushed;
now, I close my eyes, cold to the warm glow of the TV.
When I open them again, it’s the same old show:
celebrity coat-tails, Jesus moments, power-brokers.
We know he makes provision for torture.
His trembling effusion is the mannerism of a squirrel
who renders the air with his pitiful cry.
What will he learn, caught in his own circle of fire,
when only the winter wind can keep him from falling.