October 4, 2016

Three Poems by Ted Mc Carthy: "Eggs," "Dalkey in November," and "Kilcloon"

Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, 'November Wedding', and 'Beverly Downs'. His work can be found on www.tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com


In a momentary light where every wall
is white, and day waits to sink,
this time in empty silence,

a drunk weaving home, his t-shirt
blue as a boy’s, carries in his head
a clutch of speckled eggs

lifted from a hedge on a morning
that never was, clotheslines riotously bright,
aerials gleaming like rocket-silver.

Against the gathering hill, he threads
between pavement cracks, avoiding flowers
whose names he doesn’t know.


You venture out,
taking the motorway down
onto that great ribbon of promise
that still comforts with its silent distant bustle
although we’re so far gone we turn
the early news off, pass
ten vans at most:

who can tell
where or why they head
past filling stations bereft of breakfast rolls.
Ahead, the first exit to hint at sea

two roundabouts, right turn, Killiney,
a climb, a faux castle
gate, then Dalkey.

Unseasonal always,
it has a light, a stillness
that seems to rebuke the turning world.
Small houses that look nowhere seem glad
of a wall between windows
and cars that turn
for the coast road.

A place for a cure
when no sickness is known
but the mind is poised for flight, aware
of some imprecise contagion in the air:
wholesome here, the breeze
plays along the maze
of lung and brain.

Like porcelain
that sea, your first glimpse
when you wandered here, lost in the dense
winding of blood along unfurled capillaries
shot with adrenaline. Much
has changed. Night beckons now,

Dalkey in November
pulls dark like a blanket
and a house on the hill is the prow
of a ship aground, the crew asleep, thinking
of July on the Mediterranean
as they slowly sink
gently, further

into a night
unlike any other.
You can turn away from the lights; they shine
like luminous coral or the huge humped spine
of a mythic creature reminding
of depth, story
and your own struggle,

all that futile
bringing to birth of what
you thought you were. That tight little knot
of light beyond Bray – where is it? No map tells –
is at the edge, content
to be so: and so
you. Time you went.

(for Alan and Elizabeth Monahan)

I drain another coffee cup
and look out at the sleet that whips
across the lake, now fierce, now spent.
A kid blows on his hands and shunts
his snake of trolleys between cars,
a down and out returns the stares
of giggling schoolgirls on the mitch.
The country tries to start from scratch
but can’t resist the urge to splash:
a final binge before the crash,

we keep an old familiar promise
to spend before it’s taken from us,.
the nation going down the pan,
greedy, venal, also-ran,
our leaders confident, of course,
with not a whisper of remorse.
I think back to that trip we took,
the midlands’ leaden floods, the rooks,
your daughter bringing into song
all we hoped when we were young;

the brand new church’s leaking roof –
truth in an optimistic life,
the break no hand or word can fix,
whose healing is the time it takes.
Visiting his grave at last,
your son whose funeral I missed
that week I barely recollect,
I realised the pain I’d blocked
no longer mattered next to yours,
your lives a hymn to what endures,

a promise that we will prevail
in spite of all that bodes us ill –
what Hardy deemed capricious fate
or those absurd and petty states
we trail our heart and conscience through:
such parodies of all we know,
where there’s no wholeness, no redemption;
just music’s sudden consolation,
the cool joy of a late-March thrush,
the drumroll of a deluge-lash:

strange to find such sustenance
in crumbs of varied happenstance,
light given up for lost renewed
by a blade-slit in a sullen cloud.
The sleet subsides. The coffee’s cold.

A woman and a well-wrapped child
sit next to me: the easy gesture,
mild intimacy of boy and mother
teasing over Christmas lists,
are all I need to know exists.

("Kilcloon" was previously published in Poetry Ireland Review.)

Ted Mc Carthy

Total Pageviews