Five Poems

Dublin: Autumn Dust

The clock above the Irish Times
Forswearing the faltered day,

A slathering mist on the hills,
A gaffer outside O'Neal's

Afflicting passing strangers
With the secrets of his arid age,

A flurry of gulls on the Liffey,
The bridges drifting into a night

As nebulous as the unraveled day,
A crone beckoning to death

Across the dark water
With frail and brittle gestures,

The massive head of O'Connell
Brooding on his vision of a city,

The heavy air sinking
As darkness palls the quays.

 

Odalisque

She could have been an odalisque
Who posed for Ingres or Delacroix,
He thought, that afternoon he saw
Her standing in the Place Michel.

Among the crowds of passersby
He'd seen in wanton Paris days
En route to nearby bars, cafes,
He'd come upon no face like hers.

His frail disguise of nonchalance
Dissolved upon their first embrace.
She took his fingers, helped him trace
The deep defile between her breasts.

The hour they spent at some hotel
Outside of St. Germain des Pres
Was all they had, and yet, that day
He witnessed beauty unadorned,

Beheld, before she brushed aside
Her chestnut hair, and rose to dress,
The spoil a sultan might possess.
She could have been an odalisque.

 

Coole Park Revisited

Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight man's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away.
    — W.B. Yeats, The Wild Swans at Coole

                       I
"So many lovely things are gone,"
You said, those brooding latter days.
At Coole, a Georgian manor house
Played host to genius down the years,
A country's poets, playwrights, wits,
But blackguard time would pull it down.
Just up the road the Martyn heirs
Contrived to lose Tyllira House;
And who ascends your winding stair
At Ballylee but tourists now?
                    II
Returning to these Seven Woods,
I leave the world of ghosts awhile.
I go to find those swans again
That wheel and dive across the lake,
Near kin of those you ventured once
Were emblems of the human soul.
What's lost, preserved in years to come
No man can ever prophesy.
Will sylphlike swans be gliding here
When men are silent, man extinct?

 

Storms

For Sean Kerrigan

When days of stormy skies have done their worst,
And river waters rise and levees burst;
When men implore their gods as skies grow dark,
And every two-by-four becomes an ark;
When friends are lost and burdened with our grief,
We count the cost of storms with disbelief;
When children doubt and wonder how we'll live
And we're without assurances to give;
When we're bereft of all, except the dross,
And mankind's left to calculate its loss;
We'll shut our eyes against the wind and rain,
And waking, we'll arise and build again.

 

The Dust of Stars

For Louis Turenne

Time was, men breathed the dust of stars,
The smoke from long exploded worlds
When chaos shook the galaxy.
Their voices made the rocks resound
With music never heard before.
To pacify the jealous gods,
They played upon the three-stringed lyre
And gave an antiphon to man.
But science wished their music stilled.
Philosophy would deem them mad,
And some proposed to drive their kind
Beyond the city gates en masse,
Those men of dialectic mind
Who never breathed the dust of stars.

 

 

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About T.S. Kerrigan

T.S. Kerrigan recently retired from the law after a convincing victory in the United States Supreme Court and serving as the President of the Irish-American Bar Association. He is an accomplished poet and playwright and is a former theater critic and longtime member of The Los Angeles Drama Critic's Circle. His plays “Branches Among the Stars” (concerning the youth of James Joyce) was presented at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, and “A Thorn in the Heart,” a treatment of incest in Ireland was presented successfully at the Globe Playhouse. His poetry has been in too many journals in England, Ireland and America to list here. Former Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur described his poetry as “full of life, authority, playfulness, and good rhythms. Renowned poet X.J. Kennedy, former Poetry Editor of Paris Review, has hailed his work as a “rich and vivid collection admirable for the verve of its language-handling.” His poetry is included in many anthologies including Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems (Viking-Penguin 2002), Off the Record (U. of West Virginia 2004), In the West of Ireland (Lisselton, County Kerry 1992), and several others. His latest book, My Dark People was published in April.