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"M'APPARI TUTT' AMOR..."
('She appeared to me full of love...')

Here in the church
of my father's carpentry

the incense is
of pine

sunlight genuflects
through the window

wood curls
in religious ecstasy

a blue bottle
preaches an  iridescent  sermon

a choir of dust motes
make this a heaven

as my father hums
"M'appari tutt' amor.."

this my epiphany
of the ordinary

this the everyday
prayer

I bow my head to
the saw as it sings

"....bella si che il mio cor ..."

*

You can see this sung as a charming serenade in the film BREAKING AWAY ! and in the soapuds episode from ***** WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and used here and there in Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW.There are also two swing versions.

My Da didn't know any of this and it was just a passing air on the radio that got stuck in his head and he would hum or la la la it every now and then as he hammered or sawed without knowing anything about it! It was only years later when he was 90 that I was able to tell him what it was and get him a recording of Domingo singing it.

Of course it features highly in a certain Mr. Joyce book as well. Caruso had made it popular and Joyce always a big Caruso fan( he had hoped to do an interview with the great man when he came to Dublin but that came to nothing.)
WALKING WITH GRANDFATHER

Spend the morning
walking with the ghost


of my grandfather
hale and hearty in 1922.


He takes a bit of time
getting use to 2017.


Me trying to get to know
a man I never knew.


He has a new son
my father-yet-to-be.


I walk these fields seeing
what he would have seen


following in his footsteps
time doesn't matter now.


Time only the pulse
trapped beneath the wrist.


"I'm sorry I missed you being alive."
I apologise for my presence now.


"Aye, aye...it's no great shakes being dead!"
he grins.


I stung
by the nettles at my feet.


He offers me a dock leaf.
"I've kept an eye open for you


since you were born."
he smiles with his eyes.


"Wondering when you were
going to come and see me!"


I look away.
A lark takes to the skies.


"Took your time to be
a poet...that opener of doors!"


Another time opens in my mind and
we pass through the ages


that come and go
separate us.


We the living
and the dead.


"Let's go down to the river
see if it's still there!"


Still the same old joke.
I let the river run by my hand.


He sings for me.
It's always Carrigdhoun.

Here, the river here
and in the song

the one and the same
I joining his singing.

"And I’m alone, for he is gone,
My hawk is flown, ochón, mo chroí!"
MIST CREEPING SLOWLY

The morning found
only blood & feathers.

The fox leaving
only Death

& its presence

& the gossip of the frightened chickens.

My uncle swearing
‘til the sky was blue

(early morning clouds that the sun shone through) .

An embarrassed ****
like a mad alarm clock

crying like a cartoon “****-a-doodle-do! ”

My uncle dispatching him
with a quick kick.

“Oh yeah, and where the hell were you? ”

I take in the scene of the massacre
& whisper:

“I sure wouldn’t like to be    a chicken! ”

*    *      *

All that next week
my uncle stalked the chicken coup
waiting for the fox

who was clever enough
not to turn up

until the eight day
driven by his hunger & his nature

she stared into my uncle’s cold metallic sight
& the evil acrid smell of a cartridge caught in flight

as both it & the fox(shot through the head)  
fell dead

at my uncle’s muddied boot.

My gentle uncle delirious with Death
the frosted air
stained with his breath.

His voice almost transformed
into an animalistic hoot:

“Hey boy, betcha didn’t know I
could shoot! ”

The good side of the fox’s face
seemed to still laugh
at the very idea of Death.

I whimpered:

“I sure wouldn’t like to be    a fox! ”

The countryside
brutal & Biblical

demanding

a life for a life

Yet all I could see
was Death...Death.

Priest-like...

I knelt & whispered
a quick act of contrition
to the fox’s carcase.

My uncle probably thought
I was barmy.

That night in celebration
my uncle wrung a chicken’s neck

(the chicken’s name was Patricia)  

& I declined the clean
white breast

still haunted

by the chicken & the fox’s

death.
LITTLE RED PLANET

Like a perfect little planet
the tiniest strawberry of ever & ever

sat in the universe
of your palm

us two
nothing but specks
(you in a blue dress)  

in the middle of the hugest field
in the world

green as
Forever is.

“Eat it..! ”
you laugh
“...in one bite! ”

Offering me the little red planet
in the universe of your open hand.

I lap at it
licking up the taste of it

intense as
the taste

of ever & ever is

the deliciousness
of your laughter

but the money
in the meter of memory

runs out

and the loveliness
of your laughter

delicious as
a little red planet

(the salty tang of your hand)  

hides
once again

in the mystery of Time.
THE WORLD STANDS STILL

here a flash
of horse

( was it
brown or black? )

there leaping lambs
here leaping lambs

trees finding it im-
possible to keep up

a river giving it a good go: but
...falling behind also

a cow...acowandanothercow: now
all run to-get-her

the 3.33
snorting at the station

pawing at the platform
in a huff

an iron horse
hooting like a mechanical owl

hoooOOOOOOOOOO
ahhhhh at last

the world stands
still.
WHAT THE BARBER THINKS...
(for that lovely little devil of a barber Anthony Kelly in the town of Fermoy)


snip...snip. . .snip
goes his mind
cutting through thought


with the voice of the scissors
his hands
two sparrows


dancing with Time
each head
a changing field


now
flowing wheat
now bare stubble


his mind
taking flight
taking off


the too much there
dealing with
the not enough here


the making
beautiful
the altering appearances


the human
touch
the kindest cut


but
where
( you want to know )


where does
the barber's mind go
& what are his thinkings


ahhhh my friends
sure that would be
telling you. . .
CRÚISCÍN...CÍSTÍN BAISE
(LITTLE JUG...LITTLE PALM CAKE)

Auntie Mary’s
currant cake & blackberry jam

“Mmmmmmmm”

The jewels in the crown
of our forever summer

holiday

precious Corkonian objects
brought back to the lowly lowlands of the Curragh.

All the blackberries
that ever were

bursting with sunshine
& childhood

jumping into the jar for her
as if it were an honour.

They & I
transformed by her

love
& lovely laughter

cake baked
with smiles & chuckles

winks & singings.

Me on her knee...tiny
being kissed to bits.

Me being devoured
by an enormous hug

smothered in bosoms
the many many yellow flowers on her purple pinny.

Her blowing my curls out of the way
so that her smile could kiss me

more & more...er!

Me unable to comprehend anything
of her Cork accent.

Me saying “Yes..? ” & “No..? ”
in all the wrong hilarious places

(to my great embarrassment
& her great amusement)

her breath tickling my cheek
telling me she loved me...loved me...

& that I looked so good

she could “...ate ya! ”

Love as visible
as the flour

in the air
in our hair.

*

(
Homely little terms! A little jug of milk and a little cake in the palm of your hand.)

A cístín baise is a little cake made on the side of the griddle especially for the child...eh...“helping” with the baking.

This was written for my Aunt Mary who passed away leaving me with nothing but the memory of her love...her all abiding love...that not even her death can diminish. I simply adored her.

The Cork accent is like fast fluent French cross pollinated with
sing- song Welsh...almost impossible to understand unless you are immersed in it for a couple of months! But of course she would also play with me and make up a whole lot of what they call in Cork...
“glig glag”...silly talk.

She was so easy to love.
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