Milton at the shop counter,
Buying egg rolls for his lunch,
Milton on the street corner,
Walking low with that familiar hunch,
Milton on the bench,
Right outside my apartment’s door,
All day all I can see is Milton,
Just the memory of him,
Intangible as when he died,
Cold and unresponsive on his hospital bed,
Now he walks,
And he is mobile,
And on the other side,
Of my mind.
The difficult side that has no rules,
Nor ways and means in which to talk
His presence always is an impediment.
Not a happy one,
To have around,
A shattering sneeze makes her head bow,
Blocking out all the sunlight.
When she comes back up for air,
I pull the curtains open once more,
The pretty reams and rows of hazel hair,
The fall in step on either side,
So I can bathe once more,
Within the glow irradiating from her.
Transcontinental gaping eyes,
Across plenitudes of culture,
The far reaches of my imagination met,
On this tour,
On the way back to the source.
My quiet town shakes itself,
Only when there is a bitter wind,
And when the snow comes,
But once a year,
Or the rain is spattered on startled faces.
My lonely town,
In the centre of one crooked island,
Small and rocky,
All but uninhabitable,
Is the centre of my world.
Here in China,
Is every kind of vastness,
Each climate takes a turn,
But all the space in the world,
Cannot converge to make,
A chasm quite like that,
Which exists at home in Cavan.
Stood upon the parapet floor,
Of an old, but not quite ancient,
We dedicate this day,
Within our minds, but
Within our limited time together,
We dedicate these precious hours,
To the memory of something new,
Things quite old,
But which we never before knew.
Fled down an alley,
Away from the surging crowd,
The mass exodus of souls,
Out of the city on the weekend.
The larks drew long and loud,
Upon the reeds in their throats,
Tore new slipstreams to follow,
In the dense, polluted air.
And I limped all sorrow,
On the dirt of this land far from home,
Through another concrete plateau,
The levelled site of thousands of new homes.
The China clambers down my throat,
The air is growing heavy with some scent,
The Middle Country, curiously draped in passive despair,
Is just beginning to wake from a slumber on my brain.
Smells of lavender and durian and rancid green tea,
Dairy left to mould and thicken,
Of oil, both deep and shallow and riddled by rancid grease,
The air is growing thick with some scents that spell disease.
A walk down South Garden Road, Number four,
I see rats that scamper and pedestrians who never stop,
I sense, below my feet, rhythms quite untenable.
She has a look on her face,
Like a grey dawn intended for rain,
I sit still like the limescaled statues,
Solid and omniscient in these situations.
The water will come, of course,
And the waves will pulsate their threat.
The walls, they always hold,
The vat of tears run dry,
And just some shallow puddles,
Are left behind as evidence,
Along with a silence filled with spirit and calm.
Sing upon the swinging seat,
While lifting limbs.
Meandering past the water’s edge,
Catching the saline twins,
Swimming upon the moon’s light.
The beaming drift,
Bends down to curl,
On something softer than itself,
And I throw my shoulders out of shape,
To sleep upon the grass myself.
I hear the purr of wind,
Pass lightly through the air,
Singing sweetness on her own,
Upon her lonesome self.
Ancient vespors alive,
Remnant despite the crowded pockets,
All comfort tonight,
The colours coagulate,
Side by side.
Maybe you try to hide that solemn cowslick,
For that you deserve some credit.
And you try to nail those gnarled shoulders down,
Even when they shake in the wind like raindrops.
And you paint your eyeballs kind and sweet,
Covered up with spectacles, just in case someone suspects.
I know you try and I love you for it,
My sweet charlatan.
You and I can hear it,
The grotesque screams seeping through the cracks.
I love the smile,
It makes me laugh to think of its inherent seductiveness,
And to glean moments,
When joy really seems to resonate around the room,
Against rotting walls.
They are not forced,
It makes me laugh,
Only because I cannot weep.