The Rusty Toque | Issue 3 | Poetry| October 12, 2012
MEDITATION #21 NOTHING IS THE MATTER
There comes a rope hung heavy on the beam of night/I am at a loss to know just who
should hang from it/the draggle tailed wench seducing life with lusty fervour/or
the skip kennel boy obeying its every flunked up order/never a barrel the better herring/
In our talk the stench of its very odour/ the torment and the dross returned with equal favour/
the buffoons have come home to rest/their anacoluthic rack stretched until the bones crack
and break asunder/their terrible words do not come back/ show no respect for dialects/a hex
on hacks/ Nothing is the matter/ On the ward for alcoholics the doors are locked/ the babies
have been tossed out with the water from the bath/the rhythm sprung like a heart
with a single beat/syllabically weak and slack/ kept more intact in the knocking bones/
smooth-polished flat/Enough of that/the rope hangs heavy and that’s a fact/Nothing
is the matter/the heart has sprung a leak/and for our part it would be best
if we never chose to speak/silence is where it’s at
MEDITATION #23 WHAT I AM SCARED OF MOST IS NOTHING
The little bird with the woman’s face who charms us with her song/what’s wrong with that/we
could plug our ears with beeswax, tie ourselves to the mast/but that can’t last/in any case what kills
us in the end is the silence that follows/I know it’s hard to swallow but what I’m scared of most
is nothing/Stiff and slow with age there’s little left besides/the singing draws us near but really
who would rest a while with that/I’d serve her gin/wind up the gramophone/hear Benny Goodman
spin/ Sing Sing Sing (with a Swing)/better that than shovelling hard in the stockyards/stinking to high
Heavens/or falling into the rendering vats/ground up with animal parts to be sold as lard/They tell us
it’s not a sin/but even the gramophone must wind down/the woman drop tired in your arms/soon fall
asleep/it’s all the rage/and this is where the end comes in/the music fades/the silence of the deep/
One way or another we are all packing meat/it’s hard times on the killing floor/the nuns have turned
to whores, lure travellers into poverty/not that it bothers me/ I would rather keep poor company than sail
into that broiling sea/There is nothing I am afraid of/ I sing when it’s stormy, when it’s calm I weep
VISION OF DEATH'S VIRTUES
Beat a drum covered in wolf skin:
a sheep is made afraid.
Beat a drum covered in bear skin:
the horses run away.
Lay the hyena beside the panther:
the hide loses its hair.
Finger the harp strings made from catgut:
bring no comfort to the ear.
Slay the birds and beasts together:
their blood will not be shared.
GERARD BEIRNE is an Irish writer now living in Canada where he teaches at the University of New Brunswick and is a Fiction Editor with The Fiddlehead. His most recent collection of poetry Games of Chance: A Gambler’s Manual was published by Oberon Press, Fall 2011. His collection Digging My Own Grave (Dedalus Press) won second prize in the Patrick Kavanagh Award. He has published two novels including The Eskimo in the Net (Marion Boyars) shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award 2004. His short story "Sightings of Bono" was adapted into a short film featuring Bono (U2).