Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stopping For The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve  Apostles

So this is where the land goes
south: pink crumbling stacks,
geology on speed, earth-clouds.

So fast when one of them dropped
its brittle link with the mainland ––
‘London Bridge’ fallen to

‘London Arch’ –– the abrupt island
supported a population: two
startled tourists on hold

for a helicopter. I point my camera
into the wind’s wall, snap
another oblong of grandeur

(bite-sized, as befits
its current misnomer: the twelve
eroded to nine). As if

this balcony needs a wardrobe
of pantomime robes and fake beards
while the older names are still

nodding at us –– The Sow
and Piglets, Place Of Many Heads ––
up close and at bay

as the many-headed file
that shuffles past, clicks, turns
like a turnstile, except for

this couple in hoodies (though hers
is a kind of hooded coat
more like a blanket)

huddled together on the rim
of the flashes and grins,
wind-buffeted, slightly desperate

to pocket each other –– backed
into the guardrail,
having unpacked that portable

bedroom wall, the landscape
that matters. 

Well, that's the first thing I thought of when I read Katy's blog  today. I've been tinkering with the thing for years, ever since I went to Melbourne on a Vincent Buckley Poetry Fellowship in 2004. It never occurred to me that today might be numerically significant in any way. 12.12.12 = an excuse to post a poem and photo. But who needs excuses?

The other twelve that came to mind were the twelve kids I did a poetry workshop with earlier today, at the invitation of Tom Conaty, the principal. They were a delight, and the two hours passed like a dream. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Man In The Moon R.I.P.

Woman in Furs Watching the Moon
Just last August it was Neil Armstrong. Now another moon man has gone. While Armstrong made his 'giant leap' and left those griddled boot-prints on that windless scape, Moore was always the Man in the Moon, and not only because his monacle enhanced the likeness; the moon was his main obsession and speciality. Although nothing on the moon is named after him, he discovered and named the Eastern Sea, or Mare Orientale. He also discovered the 'transient lunar phenomenon', lingering glowing patches of light on the surface, a surface which he had already mapped in so much detail (before the NASA Apollo missions) that the Russians used his charts to correlate their first pictures of the far side. No wonder his first work of fiction was called Master of the Moon. Moore was far from transient himself. The first programme in 'The Sky At Night' aired the same month I was born, April 1957. Below is a short sequence I have been tinkering with for the past few months:    


At Farthings*

We meet the monocled Man
in the Moon, who couldn’t care less
how he comes across, gruff, infectious

schoolboy, knockabout clown ––
reserving a Tory scowl
for women, gays (saluting Enoch Powell) ––

speaking in Spitfire bursts,
never sunk, always immersed
stardusted, drunk

on the wealth of that spilled purse.

A Field, Schull, West Cork, 1973

Mark it, the first, and so far
only time I slept in the open
gazing up into the vaults ––
brushed by a passing
inquisitive summer rain ––
tasting the pattern.

Light Verse

To see how deeply grooved
everything is, leave your camera set
at 30 seconds, gaping on a cloudless night.

Neither analogue nor digital,
old starlight’s always cut with a needle ––
silver-plated, pristine, pulled

from the earth’s dark sleeve, each track
is authentic, a classic.

Bun a tSleibh, County Wicklow

A clear, cold night, earth-lit
by the tip of my friend’s cigarette.

I pointed and traced the arc-weld
of The Milky Way, filling his head

with stars, distances, density –– ‘Fuck off,
sure that’s only a bit of old smoke.’

A Last Word From Our Host

At 82, in an interview,
asked if he believes in god or if ‘all matter’
came from the Big Bang: ‘Ask me that
in ten years and I’ll be able to tell you.’

*The name of Sir Patrick Moore’s house.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Dream: Host-Making

Washed up on the beach at Bastardstown
Dreamed one of the strangest dreams last night. I woke with it fresh in my head, fell asleep again and forgot about it till a couple of hours ago, shortly before I went to bed.

The dream appeared to be in two stages (or scenes), like a short film. What I can remember is this:

Stage 1: a logged tree was being processed inside some large noisy machine. Sparks were flying, branches had been sheared off and the trunk was being brutally reduced to a kind of softened white pith.

Stage 2: Bits of processed tree (the size and shape of round loaves?) were floating along a slow stream inside a low arched tunnel. Workers in ragged clothes were stooping and tearing pieces of the wood, putting them in their mouths and chewing till these became a kind of softened bolus. The work was sacred, holy, because I somehow understood (though I don't think this was stated or illustrated in any way) that these bits of chewed white wood were being collected and, at a further stage, would eventually become consecrated communion hosts.