Two Irish Poems


I wander, a solitary forager
like Australia’s formidable Bull Ant,
but my mind keeps going back and forth,
asking if life is just a random line
on a map without scale or direction,
as the Royal Canal I’m following
passes from Meath to Kildare and back again.
Maybe these kinds of thoughts were useful once,
when contemplation could find solutions,
but now they are unnecessary tortures
that drive me on with ant-like stings and pincers
through Kildare to Meath and back again.   

APRIL 23rd

I must have often walked on death unknowing,
but at Clontarf the mail coat presses my shoulders
as I wade ashore at dawn, spear and shield in hand.
Our fleet’s square sails flap behind me in the breeze
while the dragons’ eyes seek our enemy
and their little spears that swarm like flies.
By next high tide our leader will be king as promised
or the battle-watchers will have claimed us all;
the water leaves us no retreat, but none is wanted.
Today I weave a strand in history’s tapestry.

Published in Fevers of the Mind

Meath and Kildare are neighbouring counties in Ireland, and the Famine Way walking route crosses from one to the other various times, which I have used to suggest the movements of an anxious mind. The Bull Ant is mentioned by the German philosopher Schopenhauer two hundred years ago as an example of the will to life.

Clontarf, now a suburb of Dublin, was the scene of a famous battle in 1014 which is usually seen as the beginning of the end of Viking power in Ireland.

I am pleased to say that 2022 has been a good year for me in poetry, with more than fifty poems published. 

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and happy new year to all of you! 

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