February 24, 2019

Three Poems by Ted McCarthy: "Just Before the First Bird Sings", "Lake Stones", and "Requiem"

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


Just Before the First Bird Sings

Just before the first bird sings
shadows move; that disturbance of air
becomes a circling of bats
round a loosened slate. Day breaks
with its million tiny turbulences,
the life and death rustling
which pause when we walk past:
only behind glass
does stillness at this hour
lack balance. Elsewhere, instinct
runs smoothly through nerve and sinew,
nowhere else is there a going back,
an attempt to sleep – what years
of struggle, what endeavour
to make natural this altered state!

Lake Stones

Abandoned by water
lake stones that stubbed our toes
lie small and shrunk on the shore,
the colour of old skin.

I remember their gold
darkening as the shelf dipped
to where a spring shocked
and warned off children and the timid,

where going further was a stepping
into air, and how in panic
feet searched like claws
for the comfort of their strangeness,
their roundness slimed with weed.

Now they lie, warmed for the first time
since the last Ice Age.

In one spot, puddles, a gouging out.
A field away, a half-wall.


In this age of sentimental
atheism, where septuagenarian rock stars
crank up unearthly decibels,
there must be a heaven for old guitars –
not collector’s items; the discards
whose strings grow rusty, pegs arthritic,
those unloved whose warped necks
were a beginner’s purgatory.

Again no more than the sum
of their elements, they wait for the room
to fall, the floor to crumble,
the drum of rain to pool
around their silence. Pity
the music they never got a chance
to make; boys who have long since
run to fat can still dream,
conjuring illusions along the air,
troubling their thinning hair,

but here nothing, a scratching of mice,
perhaps. Someone has missed
them, then forgotten. Don’t step across;
lift them, blow away the dust
with a mute tenderness.

Ted McCarthy

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