THE LAST GREYHOUND HAS LEFT
irma is coming,most people have left
the Keys they still flourish, but their look is bereft
the boats they sway lazily while they still can
soon they’ll dance crazily, with help from no man
a woman is holding her new wedding dress close
her homes in Brazil, but the airport says closed
what shall I do? She wails to her friend
my husband-to-be will go round the bend!
NIGHTS WHEN WE WERE YOUNG
Nights when we were young
We raced the wind;
Banshees in our wake
Dracula lying in wait.
We had left him oozing blood
From the stake wedged in his chest
In the Rainbow Cinema.
But with vampires you could never tell
Hair slicked back, stiff with Brylcreem,
Newly perched on our Raleigh three-speeds
We explored the world,
Our winkle-pickers pointing the way.
Patrick Kavanagh was, in my view, Ireland’s greatest poet. And probably its most cantankerous! In a pub one day one woman acquaintance hinted he should buy her a drink. ‘Can’t you see I have a mouth on me’, she said. ‘How could I miss it’, he replied, ‘and swinging between your ears like a skipping rope’. Another time a American academic asked him, ‘Have you ever tried the Alexandrine hexameter with the internal rhyming scheme?’ ‘No’, he replied, ‘but I once nailed a pigs liver to the haggard door and I shagged it!’ His greatest enemy was Brendan Behan, who detested culchies, and who often described him as ‘the fucker from mucker’, and said that the greatest thing he ever wrote was a cheque that didn’t bounce. While Patrick maintained that the only journey Behan ever made was from being a national phoney to being an international one!
THE GREAT HUNGER (extract)
Maguiire was faithful to death:
He stayed with his mother till she died
At the age of ninety-one.
She stayed too long,
Wife and mother in one.
When she died
The knuckle-bones were cutting the skin of her son’s backside
And he was sixty-five.
O he loved his mother
Above all others.
O he loved his ploughs
And he loved his cows
And his happiest dream
Was to clean his arse
With perennial grass
On the bank of some summer stream;
To smoke his pipe
In a sheltered gripe
In the middle of July.
His face in a mist
And two stones in his fist
And an impotent worm on his thigh.
But his passion became a plague
For he grew feeble bringing the vague
Women of his mind to lust nearness,
Once a week at least flesh must make an appearance.
So Maguire got tired
Of the no-target gun fired
And returned to his headland of carrots and cabbage
To the fields once again
Where eunuchs can be men
And life is more lousy than savage.
From dream factory
To nightmare landscape
And all but used up,
The hot LA nights
Spiked with a Santa Ana wind,
Capote, Faulkner, Mailer, Fitzgerald, et al
Haunting the many-faceted gin-mills,
Looking for characters
For the books they were soon to write,
Hockney hobbling to
The marijuana store
To smoke away his many ailments,
Drinking Chai tea with the other lunatics,
Down Venice way
The ancient muscle men on Muscle Beach
And pull-ups that demean them,
Hollywood writ large on the hills
And a jaded sign on Santa Monica pier
Saying ‘Route 66 ends here’.