And

On this day, I fell in love
with a song on first hearing.
It helped that I was driving.
And the sun was shining.
And the window down.
And we were on our way back
from visiting a childhood friend.
And she sat quietly before issuing
a demand that it be turned up.
And I looked at her in the rear-view
looking sideways through the window
with her small foot tapping at my back.
And she looked back at me.
And looked away again.
And the music took her her way,
and me mine. And when we arrived home,
the same sun had slid down the back fence
as it peeled the last strip of daylight away.
And flung it on the earth’s bedroom floor.
And finished its striptease before
it made way for the moon.

Yardsticks

The catapult backwards from the step onto the speckled floor
The whiff of industrial bleach used to rid them of individuality
The near-miss collisions with Reservoir Dog line-ups
that swept the corridors banishing question marks and commas
The repetition of numerical formulae ricocheting away
The iconography lining the interior walls of a 10-year old
The two times two she was suspended
for hiding in the Grotto with back
to the Hail Mary who refused to meet her gaze
before whom she was made kneel
The Decade of the Rosary that fled her lips
to make way for kisses and a re-working of
the Ten Commandments to her own satisfaction.

Tower of Babble

Finger-tips standing to attention
Left buttock lifted to fire
A starting shot of sulphur
He’s off
Left, right, left, right
Fingers sashay up and down
The Queen’s keyboard
In exclamation-marked outrage
At charges of gutter culture
Left, right, left, right
Re-routed and stopped
From entering the Republic of Logic
By those blockading reconciliation
One’s iconography being set alight by
Placing an inferno under that of another
Left, right, left, right
Jenga’ing his way around detractors
He slides one plank out from under another
Reconstructing his argument
Capital-lettering one back on top of the next
Left, right, left, right
Until they fill the entire screen-line
On which he stands aloft
Squinting over at dissenting dandruff
The click-clacking of
Bullets from his behind
Left, right, left, right
In concert with the silent but deadly
Desertion of his leaders.

Watching Winning Streak in The Nip

By Not Paul Durcan

Taking my dignity out of the machine for inspection,
I notice it’s shrunk considerably in the hot wash.
From the living room, Marty implores Mary to wave
At the camera to all the Mayo folk watching at home.
I wave back and spin the wheel round three times.
It lands on 40 degrees between the delicates
And the badly stained no longer whites.

Sorry, Not Sorry

To my second child
I was too old to conceive.
To my first who will not
always think him or her
inconceiveable.
To the piano for leaving
whatever potential untuned.
To my head for failing
to lower the volume
on my heart.
To the miracle of mortgage
For not co-operating with it.
To my occupation
My poor sense of direction.
To my lack of loyalty
to loyalty cards, which
to my credit
card, is past its expiration.
To the pension
not given planning permission
from the authority local to my logic.

Terms and Conditions apply:

To the rapidfiredvoiced offer
(of which only 16% percent variable was audible)
for my interest-free indifference.
To my ovaries for re-directing thousands
away from one eternal hope.
To the linear life
for over-taking it on the inside lane
along the A-drift.
To my heart for
occasionally forcing it to concede victory
in the arm-wrestle
with my head.

Finally, to The Non-Conformittee:
A letter of resignation from one
No longer fugitive or fleeing.

Unionised

Liberté
It was not you who had to surrender all
The two-bed day-dream by a Southern shore
Lined with competing horizons
Bearing only flags of blue: liberty on labels
coloured Us and Them.
Egalité
It is not you who refuses to Tri on
Sleeves coloured Ourselves and Alone
Flanked either side of gowns in bridal white:
for the march down the Island
to a pre-arranged fight
Fraternité
It was not I who quietly jettisoned all
The silent signs. Finger-tips no longer touching fringe
Across to either shoulder then down to
Heart of sacred red: To join with me
In bringing her up as a flag set free

Tombs of an unknown soldier

In the unmarked grave in her head
the foetus of a formal education aborted by back room absolutists.
Lying in repose in the tips of her fingers, the budding writer
Gunned down by guardians of scholars and saints.
Below knuckles needed more to knead, to Knock, to knit.
Beneath fancy notions, her ambitions of professional progression
Disappeared by the Marriage Bar before being discovered by a passerby
Along the shoreline of her hopes years later and given the dignity of burial.
Encased in her top drawer behind discontinued perfumes and lilac scarves no longer worn
the slim body of a thermometer. Useful as iodine tablets in the event of a nuclear attack
against the prospect of another mouth to feed.
Resting at the bottom of a brandy urn, the ashes of financial autonomy
Stirred occasionally with a swirl before she washes it down
The bittersweet pill of freedom
And toasts our himdependence.

Ireland, 2016

Possibilities

I prefer going to movies alone.
I prefer to star in life alongside other people.
I prefer a soaking along the Atlantic.
I prefer Keyes to Keynes.
I prefer myself liking myself
to myself disliking everyone else.
I prefer to keep a needle on the record, than just CDs in cases .
I prefer the colour clean.
I prefer not to make a mountain
out of every cliff.
I prefer inceptions.
I prefer to finish, nearly.
I prefer talking to police about something else.
I prefer coast-lined habitations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing to myself
to the absurdity of speaking this to others.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, specific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every year.
I prefer loyalists
who plámás me nothing.
I prefer being mindful to mindfulness.
I prefer the down-to-earth civilians.
I prefer listening to being listened to.
I prefer having some ultimatums.
I prefer the heaven of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer the what’s not to the what’s hot
I prefer leaving with hugs to arriving to kisses.
I prefer unchopped tales to truncated tweets.
I prefer truthful eyes, since mine are no good at lying.
I prefer writing bureaus.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer heroes you’ve never heard of
to those most feted figures you have.
I prefer the Time of  Tom Waits to the Time of New York’s Square.
I prefer to step on the cracks.
I prefer not to ask how and why.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that persistence has its own way of navigating.

(With more than a passing nod to Wislawa Szymborska)

The Draughtsman

Seventeen years since your retirement
One for every foot of your occupation of my girlhood
Not to scale for at seventeen I discovered
You are as unassailable as the stool my three-foot self could
Never climb however steadily positioned against the drawing
Board with a drop so sheer for the plummet of your moods
Frequently rolled like pencils over blue-prints of right-angled
Doorways and vague outlines of windows, sketchy outlays
Of foundations of your being that insisted on revealing where
The septic tank should be as if we did not know where the sewage
Was located while numerous Storage Units were strewn
Arbitrarily across both floors of your semi-detached self.
Without clues for what should be kept in them though we later suspected.
And now your own foundations are beginning to sink
You are no longer to scale as you once were.
(less defiant two-story than abandoned bungalow)
I still tip-toe across the t-square of your mood negotiating
The pirate’s plank inevitably leading to a 90 degree turn
Onto which I mount. Sliding unsteadily as it narrows, shortens
While your tongue sharpens the lead of my feelings, paring them down
Until there is a storage unit of shavings to shore up with a wooden ruler
One rule for you, a different one for everyone else