Castlefreke

The sky was on fire.

The sea, monstrous

As we walked on the hazardous

Roof of the old Big House.

I was high on destiny.

 

Night fall, full of fear,

We left the fire to commune

With ghosts in the pitch black

Rooms and corridors.

 

Someday, if we ever return,

We will look for ghosts of ourselves.

We will stop and listen for footsteps

And voices

And we will watch for figments of lighter

Flame in the darkness.

 

For who can deny the sweets of memory?

It is easier to deny the raging sky

And the ravenous sea.

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The Unreflected Life

The Unreflected  Life

 

By David Jordan

 

I awoke to muddy boots,

My clothes soaked and stinking of urine.

Reject of Dionysus I am.

 

I remembered everything:

Stumbling in the dark, on the grass,

On the riverbank, like a rat.

Reject of Dionysus I am.

 

I can hear his laughter.

Old habits and behaviours reappear,

Madness, danger and fear.

Wasted days, wasted years.

Reject of Dionysus I am.

 

Damn you Dionysus!

With your leopards

And your laughter

And your car!

 

I follow Apollo.

Gladly, I toss away my thyrsus

On the riverbank.

 

I awake from stupor

To reason and intellect and imagination.

To the spring of the muses,

So cool and clear and clean.

Yes, there is nothing better on this earth,

I tell you, than to kiss that limpid water.

Ghost Train

Ghost Train

By David Jordan

The carriage rocks you into a semi trance.

Everywhere you look there is a reflected countenance.

Across the aisle a mother and child

Play pen and paper games

With subdued voices.

A man drinks beer from a can stoically.

Strangers exchange non-committal words

And glances.

 

Then the darkness descends outside,

Bringing with it a feeling of dislocation

But also solidarity

As we are visited by the ghost, Society.

 

When we arrive our brief companionship

Is broken up with polite smiles and

Valedictions.

Society disappears once it has done its task:

To keep the darkness out,

Defeat the monster in the glass.

The Given Note by Seamus Heaney

To me, this poem says a lot about the experience of the true artist. He must go to the extreme, to the edge, and so the fiddler in the poem is alone on a windy night on an island off the west coast of Ireland. He goes to the edge of sanity: he hears music in the wind and brings it back to society with him. The followers hear strange noises with no melody from his hut. Heaney presents the artist as a conduit or channel for another world. He doesn’t create but is ‘given’. But at the same time, it requires hard work – the fiddler says to his followers that their fiddling is too ‘easy’.

The Given Note

On the most westerly Blasket
In a dry-stone hut
He got this air out of the night.

Strange noises were heard
By others who followed, bits of a tune
Coming in on loud weather

Though nothing like melody.
He blamed their fingers and ear
As unpractised, their fiddling easy

For he had gone alone into the island
And brought back the whole thing.
The house throbbed like his full violin.

So whether he calls it spirit music
Or not, I don’t care. He took it
Out of wind off mid-Atlantic.

Still he maintains, from nowhere.
It comes off the bow gravely,
Rephrases itself into the air.

Dawn

Dawn

By David Jordan

 

Over time my anger has dwindled

And dulled.

I can feel it going:

The fire, the energy and the blood.

But I’m still glowing.

 

Aengus, son of light, still

Watches me.

Will call me in time to do as he bids.

For I am for the birds

And I am for the young

And all your power and grace and time.

Your melting clocks on the wall,

Your genius awakening at dawn.

I am on your side.

One Day

One Day

By David Jordan

 

One day

When I’m out of bed, bad blood and

Curses, maybe I’ll smile under the

Cool moon.

 

See her wrapped in a

Cloud mantle,

Reveal herself,

Then cover up again.

 

See her hang there, full,

Like a silver pendant.

 

A calm unwinking eye.

 

See her radiate and glow

The way women glow

Sometimes.

 

See her move slowly and

Silently across the sky

Like a huntress.

 

What else can I do but try

To please her with my pen,

Solitary, romantic old fool

That I am?

Hungry Hill

Hungry Hill

By David Jordan

Alone by Hungry Hill

On my 23rd birthday

I sat on a rock outside my tent

In the still, star encrusted night.

The hard moon became a jazz singer

Crooning a birthday tune.

Calm idyll,

Beatnik song

Of crazy sorrow and solitude.

 

Alone by Hungry Hill

I found the perfect pastoral place

But there was no escaping my

Ennui, my sadness, my pain.

 

I thought I knew nothing.

O how right I was!