MY PASSPORT’S GREEN

MY PASSPORT’S GREEN

Don’t be surprised if I demur, for, be advised
My passport’s green.
No glass of ours was ever raised
To toast The Queen.
Seamus Heaney

seamus_heaney_bog

BLACKBERRY PICKING by Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

STOLEN WORDS

 

some poems from my collection ‘STOLEN WORDS

 

TIGER BAY

How long have they sat there,

Unnoticed?

Granite haunches

Tensed in the sand

Brunting the snarling sea

Washed over again and again

Licking endless salt wounds away.

 

From these high cliffs I see them clearly

Wild creatures

Waiting patiently for prey

Yesterday it was desolate;

Now there are tigers in the bay

 

BUNKER ON PORTLAND BILL

This windowed concrete slab

Touching the hedgerows

Bunkered in leaf-strewn soil

Chivvies me

 

Muskets were reddened here

By shorter men than I

Defenders of a long-gone realm

Stooped between fissured ceiling and creviced floor

 

What mayhem bedlamed this rocky causeway?

Its cannons foddering the deep

The stun of steel slamming granite

The stench of gunfire turning stomachs

Loose limbs cluttering pathways

Death hovering

 

All quiet now on this promontory;

Sheep nibbling, tea and scones in the old armoury

Picture postcards of battles fought and won

Day-trippers picnicking

In the shadows cast by the big guns

 

PRISONER

The ticking clock is silent

Articulating emptiness

Mainspring not busted

Just not required.

Time gulling it over the horizon

Speckled in the distance

The residue left behind

Not worth a light

 

Over some visionary hill

Virtual reality is real enough

More and more scream the worms

Turning every which way but one

More length, more depth

More leisure, more pleasure

More love, more life

Bur mostly more coin

 

Nothing prepares us for this

The hand that held the answers

Trembling now before new idols

Knowledge bootless as experience

New waves have old beginnings

But tired dogs own no snap

It’s the rut we’re stuck in, see?

Slow going forward but no going back

 

Sitting by time’s window

Waiting for the daily rebuff

To come winging by

Sifting little crumbs of comfort

From the embers

Screaming all the way…

4 poems by Tom O’Brien

026 - Copy

4 poems by Tom O’Brien

 in Kathmandu

Memories come on wings of light

A shining bird, high pines in the sun

The fire in a floating leaf

The autumn heat in weathered wood

Soft lichen on a stone.

A light-filled imminence simmering and breaking,

Leaving me breathless and in pain.

This sickness of infinitude that leads to the madhouse,

This ‘self remembering’ of the present

Instead of wandering the ephemeral worlds

Of past and future.

I was a true believer in my magic carpet;

Ready to fly as far as it would take me.

The search begins with a restless feeling,

As if one is being watched.

One turns in all directions but sees nothing.

The path that leads here is not a path to a strange place,

But the path home.

But you are home

Cries the Witch of the North

All you have to do is wake up.

 

NOAH’S ARK

Noah knew a thing or three about Arks

Though he never had to deal with dry snakes in the parks

(as far as I know)

Or alligators eating raw taters

In the fields where potatoes used to grow

Or see the hedgerows decompose

‘Cos underwater rots your toes

And lettuces float lonely in orderly rows.

There is ice in the neighbourhood

But it’s not in the fridge

It’s log-jamming tightly

Against the almost submerged bridge

While uptown bright red stilettos

Are swimming downstream

Towards the emptied-out ghettos.

The people are gone

But the water hurries on

Self-raising evermore as it swamps the seashore

And heads for the hills and the high-rise domains

Where soon this new-spawned Atlantis

Will be all that remains.

 

RAINY NIGHTS IN SOHO
See all the down-and-out lickers and fuckers
Down the Embankment they tumble
Unable any longer to bear much reality
Too much self-knowledge and time spent trotting
Between the Tate and the National
Or one of their endless reading groups
Believing they had a story to tell
If only things had worked out,
If only the monkey had hit the right keys.
Hush! if you listen carefully
You can hear the dead click of their keyboards
In the raucousness of the Soho night;
The minicabs, the limos, the rickshaws all screaming
Take me…take me…I’m free
And the hen nighters, the stag nighters,
The whatever-the-fuck nighters,
Lingering in pools of their own vomit, waiting for the paramedics to call;
Shirts open to the navel, skirts slit from here to eternity.
Late summer, later winter, who gives a shit?
The restaurants are all full though nobody is really eating.
Just being there is what matters.
Smokers stop the traffic inspecting their mobiles
What would a Martian make of that?
No one sees anything anymore
Except the lampposts they walk into;
There are no witnesses to crime;
How anybody falls in love anymore is a puzzle
Eyes no longer meet in lingering amazement
Unless they are reflected
In all those infernal hand-held screens.

 

 WHO IS THAT MAN?

 I feel like screaming

I feel like kicking something

I feel like my head is…exploding.

You  are…your name is…

Ah…David

Yes…David…

David?

It’s there

Buried in that sea of viscosity

That I am scrabbling about in

I can see it

It’s almost on the surface now…

On the tip of my tongue…

No…it’s gone again.

And I am in this room…

Looking for…

What am I looking for?

It all reminds me of my grandfather

Who, In his last tortured months,

Was convinced that somebody was forever following him about.

Then one day he spotted his own reflection in a plate glass shop window

There!, he shouted,

There he is!

Who is that man?

 

OMG…I SLEPT WITH THE BASS PLAYER!

OMG…I SLEPT WITH THE BASS PLAYER!

Bass players are gross

Bass players give you a dose

They usually have long hair

And they’re always scratching down there

They just stand around looking dopey

And their voices are usually ropey

Then they pluck on them string…things

And the sound…omg…my head just whings

And then I look at the lead guitarist play

And I think, he can tickle my frets any old day

So to find myself waking up next to a bass-playing dope

Makes it kinda hard for a girl to cope

‘Cos nobody sleeps with the bass player innit?

Sod it, I’ll do the drummer in the next bed in a minute!