Jack Grady, a founder member of the Mayo-based Ox Mountain Poets, is widely published. He represented Ireland at the 2016 Marrakesh International Poetry Festival. He will also represent Ireland at the Poesia a Sul festival in Portugal this November. His collection, Resurrection, will be published this autumn by Lapwing.
A grey day, and water drips from my cap’s brim
while water soaks the dead wood:
these tree bones I carry in my outstretched arms
in groups of three, this final
and sacrificial fruit from a barren and chopped tree,
whose bones I then arrange in the ordered ranks
of a stacked battalion of body counts
for immolation in my house.
They’ll feed the wood-burning stove
and crackle and wheeze through the winter,
as my wife and I are mesmerised
by the ghost-dance of wood nymphs in fire.
We will listen to the music of Debussy
while tree bones turn to ash and smoke.
We will kiss, give it a go;
purr like two cats in the warmth of our home
while, under the sky’s pillow-fight,
snow swaddles this boneyard
in a shroud of white.
Lust of the Bones
We bones, cold in our coffins,
wish the earth would warm us.
Once, we were full of organs
and caressed and clothed by skin,
soft as the pulp of sweet melons.
Once, we were as buoyant as boats
when we floated on ponds or sea.
Once, our joints had ligaments,
and we paddled over rapids with ease,
fuelled by muscle, tendons, and meat.
We too loved the thrust and bloom
of flowers in the spring,
the joyous ejaculation of petals and leaves,
bales of hay in summer’s heat,
carnal love beckoning behind whispers of wheat.
How our bodies, naked, as sleek as fish,
speared the moonlit water!
How we jetted under its glister like hungry seals!
How we ran manic in fields with the joy of foals
and the frolic and leap of lambs!
Our silence now is the inaudible drum
of our coffins that resound beyond sound
to the panic of the young and their sex-driven thrum,
their horror of gravestones and the stillness of bones,
their flight from the sight of Zimmer frames and canes
and from the cold, blue-veined, touch of old skin,
translucent like rawhide, stretched and dried;
thus, no longer an object of lust
nor warmth for bones
as we shiver into dust.
Finale on the Via Veneto
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
Before the curtain drops
on a buzzing hive
of swarming Lambrettas,
Time’s end glows
in the face of a Fellini clown
as his red bulbous nose
blows in on itself
with a clown’s
bicycle horn sound.
That nose is the heart
of the universe imploding.
It swallows all laughter in its cries
and all cries that linger
in the stardust trail of its laughter.
It swallows streaks
of black-painted tears
that drip from the clown’s
It swallows clown and all
as the curtain falls forever
on the Via Veneto.